Jonathan Coulton has made a slew of geeky songs, including “Still Alive” from Portal. That’s why we were especially pissed to hear Fox’s Glee used his arrangement of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” without crediting him or even talking to him. To make matters worse, Fox told Coulton he should be happy for the exposure, even though they haven’t publicly admitted he had anything to do with their version. Some exposure that is.
Since Jonathan Coulton registered his “Baby Got Back” cover under a Harry Fox license, Glee probably won’t be required to pay him anything, although there’s some gray area in that the Glee version seems to have directly lifted some of Coulton’s backing tracks, as pointed out by this video.
And this isn’t the first time Fox has been to the rodeo.
DJ Earworm, a.k.a. the San Francisco-based mashup artist Jordan Roseman, pointed out that a 2012 Glee cover of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” similarly appeared to be lifted from his arrangement of the song, as did singer/songwriter Greg Laswell, who told The Hollywood Reporter in 2011 that his version of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” also appeared to have been used without permission on the Fox show. [WIRED]
But, even if Jonathan Coulton doesn’t get his day in court, he’s still getting his comeuppance. He just re-released his cover as “Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)” on iTunes, GooglePlay, and Amazon. And he’s even doing the L-shaped hand gesture from Glee‘s logo:
We’ll let Jonathan Coulton describe the song himself:
It’s a cover of Glee’s cover of my cover of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s song, which is to say it’s EXACTLY THE SAME as my original version. I’m releasing this under the same Harry Fox license I used for the 2005 release, so Mix will get all the royalties due to him. I’ll donate the proceeds from all sales that happen between now and the end of February to two charities: The VH1 Save the Music Foundation, and The It Gets Better Project. [...] Maybe this is something that the Glee people would like to give some EXPOSURE. Though, in order to do that they’d have to make some kind of public acknowledgement that I exist. We’ll see! Maybe they’ll even want to match the gesture, and donate all their February proceeds for their version too!
“Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee)” is currently Jonathan Coulton’s best-selling track on iTunes.
That is some magnificent comeuppance.