"Glee" blatantly rips off Jonathan Coulton

Cast of Glee

As a show that’s whole premise revolves around doing covers of songs, you would think that they would be a little more careful about how they go about their business. For example, they may want to ask first before they use content from songwriters.

“Glee”, the hit television show about high school teenagers dealing with the pressures of growing up by singing their hearts out, does not typically rely on new material for their show but instead covers songs from all genre’s and decades. However, in next week’s episode, “Glee” has blatantly ripped off an arrangement from geeky songwriter Jonathon Coulton. Who is that? I didn’t know either, but he is best known for his video game anthem “Still Alive” from the game Portal, and he was not too happy to learn that one of his arrangements was stolen by the show…without even asking him first.

“Hey look, @GLEEonFOX ripped off my cover of Baby Got Back: Never even contacted me. Classy.” Coulton tweeted yesterday morning.

If you take a look at Coulton’s version of the song and compare it to “Glee’s” you can see that they are pretty much identical.

Here is Coulton’s original version:

Here is “Glee’s” version, which will air in next week’s episode, “Sadie Hawkins”:

 So as you can see, Coulton has a point here. It is not like they just borrowed a few guitar strums or phrasing choices from the song – the two are identical. Coulton went on his Twitter again to say “After listening, I think that @GLEEonFOX may have even used parts of my recording. Do I hear a duck quack? And of course they say "Johnny C".”

The “Glee” version of the track is no longer for sale on iTunes, having been pulled by FOX, but it can still be found on the Swedish iTunes store.

Screenshot of the Swedish iTunes store

While FOX has made no official statement yet on the subject, Coulton is exploring his legal options.

- Glee

Written by: harrisr
Jan 19th, 2013, 3:28 am


Level 1 (36%)
Since: 17/Apr/12
Message Posted On Jan 20th, 2013, 9:30 pm

The Verge ran a story about this on Friday and explains why Coulton hasn't got a leg to stand on; see www [dot] theverge [dot] com/2013/1/18/3891836/glee-uses-jonathan-coultons-cover-of-baby-got-back-without-permission (replace the obvious).  Basically, it amounts to this: copyright applies only to the original recording and another artist has to get permission in order to do a cover of it, but the cover has no rights at all and anyone else can do whatever they want with it without having to get permission.  It could be argued that TPTB at Glee should have reached out to Coulton and let him know what they were going to do, but they were under no actual obligation to do so, and about the only thing Coulton can do about it is express outrageous indignation...which isn't gonna get him very much or very far.



Message Posted On Jan 20th, 2013, 9:25 am
You guys may not have heard of him, but he has a pretty big cult like following among the geek crowd. He did get a non-commercial creative commons license to release the song. It's obviously not his lyrics, but they definitely stole his melody.

Message Posted On Jan 20th, 2013, 8:06 am
So basically he is upset tghts hat someone used "his" song without asking...wait it isnt his song, did he obtain permission to use the lyrics of Baby Got Back? He is hardly the first person to do an accoustic version of a rap song. Now, and this makes me laugh, he has left himself open to a potential lawsuit (unless he can document written consent from the person that owns the rights to "Baby Got Back", or if of he himself purchased the rights). Whoever owns the song rights (Fox probably did recieve permission from the rightful owner) can sue this douche-bag and the ruling would go to the the owner of the song rights. To sum up "officer, that guy took this necklace I stole, make him pay me"... now how do you think that would go in court

Level 1 (59%)
Since: 07/Jun/09
Message Posted On Jan 19th, 2013, 11:43 am

show me the money, that what he needs to say a company like FOX is big and powerfall and he would probebly be better of getting paid if he let them keep selling it and on the pluss side i never herd of him untill now and i thought the songe was worthy of a D-L, now dose anyone speek Swedish lol only joking 

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