Glee is known for covering a plethora of pop music across the decades, but what happens when if the show does a note-for-note copy of someone else's cover of a popular song? That’s what happened in episode 11 of season 4, ‘Sadie Hawkins,’ which aired on January 24th.
Jonathan Coulton, a well known indie singer-songwriter responsible for cult favorites ‘Still Alive’ and ‘Want You Gone,’ from Portal and Portal 2, amongst others, did a soft-rock cover version of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s famous rap song ‘Baby Got Back.' Somehow, a strikingly similar cover version of the song was performed on the show Glee.
The issue was brought up in Coulton’s blog, but for you can listen to the similarities below.
Jonathan Coulton's version:
Also, the lyric “Johnny C’s in trouble” was a Coulton version exclusive. FOX has some explaining to do, especially since they've since made the Glee version available for sale on iTunes.
To rub the salt on wound, when Coulton’s people contacted FOX regarding this problem, the executives at the company replied that they were “within their legal rights to do this,” and Coulton should be “happy for the exposure,” ignoring the fact that his name isn’t even credited nor do they acknowledge Coulton in any way.
“...So you know, it’s kind of SECRET exposure,” joked Coulton. "While they appear not to be legally obligated to do any of these things, they did not apologise, offer to credit me, or offer to pay me, and indicated that this was their general policy in regards to covers of covers. It does not appear that I have a copyright claim, but I'm still investigating the possibility (which I consider likely) that they used some or all of my audio."
He then added, “Thanks for your support, but please continue not to burn anything down.”
So in retaliation, Coulton released his cover of 'Baby Got Back,' renaming it ‘Baby Got Back (In The Style of Glee),' with accompanying album artwork featuring a picture of him holding a loser sign on his forehead, similar to the ad campaign for Glee. Coulton's song is currently available on iTunes, GooglePlay and AmazonMP3, with all proceeds going to charity.
It is unknown what FOX will do about Coulton releasing his version of 'Baby Got Back' to the public, but if they try to sue him then FOX should be prepared to be called hypocrites by everyone.