So one of my biggest internet pet peeves happens when people re-post things on Facebook without doing their research. You know the type; these are things that are meant to inspire people to take up arms against a company, or jump on the re-post bandwagon in order to spread the word. Things like the fact that posting some legal jargon as a status update will protect you from Facebook’s privacy policies (not true, that legal jargon actually makes no real sense) or the fact that Heineken sponsored a dog fight somewhere in South America (in reality, the banners were left over from a previous event). These things bother me because Google is a thing and it is not hard to use.
That stuff bothers me. So when I tell you that I am about to share something that you should repost and share and be passionate about fixing, you will know that I have done my research and am not just jumping on the bandwagon here.
A few years ago, a (brilliant) man named Jonathan Coulton started a project called Thing A Week, in which he put out a song a week and they were all brilliant and funny and original, and he put them together on albums which you could buy, and he put them under the Creative Commons License (which, in very rough terms, allows another person to use his music for their own creative purposes as long as he is given credit and no money is made from the product. Follow the link for more info.) In Jonathan’s Thing A Week project, he remixed Sir Mixalot’s Baby Got Back (and had permission from Sir Mixalot or his people or whomever, to do so). It is hilariously arranged and is worth a listen. Click here to do so.
Now, a few days ago, Glee released their cover of Baby Got Back for an upcoming episode. It is exactly the same. The same arrangement, the same banjo track, they even use the lyric “Johnny C’s in trouble” which isn’t even in the Sir Mixalot version. If you listen closely to the backing track, it even sounds like they used JoCo’s vocals. Click here to listen to Glee’s version.
Now I’m all for the benefit of the doubt. I have no problem with Glee as a show. I used to watch it, I thought it was entertaining. I don’t anymore, but I don’t harbour any kind of resentment towards it. (I know a lot of people on JoCo’s side are pointing fingers at Glee and saying “See! I told you it was a terrible show!” Which to me just seems a little bit like projection.)
BUT Glee did not give any credit to Jonathan for his arrangement, they put the song up for sale on iTunes (it is down now in America, but is still up on iTunes for some other countries) and they seem pretty remorseless about the whole thing.
Here’s what we can do. Share the story, get in contact with Glee officials (legal department, twitter, any way you can) and try to get this sorted out. Jonathan deserves credit in this matter. I hope we can get it for him.
Here is a link to Jonathan Coulton’s official blog on the matter.
Here is a link to an article on the issue at Wired
Here is a link to a better article on the Huffington Post
and Here is a link to JoCo’s song Re: Your Brains. Because it is brilliant and you should listen to it.
UPDATE: Glee are still jerks. I wrote an update blog about how Jonathan is dealing with it here.
P.S. I used my second January free day from BEDAY (Blog Every Day All Year) yesterday, which means I have a new blog up every day until February rolls around.