Jonathan Coulton's Cover of a Cover Gets Covered

Friday, February 01, 2013


A few weeks ago, singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton was surprised to learn that his arrangement of the Sir Mix-A-Lot song "Baby Got Back" was covered note for note by the cast of the Fox TV show Glee. Coulton talks with Bob about having his melody stolen with impunity and the legal gray area between copyright law and cover songs.


Mos Def - Ms. Fat Booty

Comments [11]

KristieL from California

Write an original song, you say? You mean like... ? Or perhaps... ? Or maybe... ? Or even...

What was that again?

Feb. 04 2013 08:42 AM
Dan Patterson from Dayton, OH

I am more than a bit surprised that the previous comments are mainly about the content of his piece and NOT what the story was about. Stolen creative work and defending our copyright.

If we as artists do not defend our work; I assure you no one else will.

There are no copyright "police" out there looking for violations. Monolithic organizations who have legal staffs are all about intimidating individual artists and stealing their work. GLEE is supposed to be about individuals and being recognized for their talent; when it really is just another vehicle for FOX to make money.

Feb. 04 2013 08:23 AM

Big entertainment will use the material of an individual with impunity but sue an individual into bankruptcy for downloading one of their songs without paying for it. He who has the most lawyers wins.

Feb. 03 2013 04:49 PM

LOL @ John challenging Jonathan Coulton to "write an original tune". Clearly you have no idea who you're talking to.

Feb. 03 2013 02:24 PM

Obviously none of you have any idea who Jonathan Coulton is because, if you did, you would realize most of his songs are silly and humorous. I am sure his social commentary was tongue in cheek in the same was that a friend of mine used to play an acoustic cover of Brittany Spears's classic "hit me baby one more time" as a song to bring awareness to domestic abuse.

As to John's comment about crying about his arangement being stolen. Mr. Coulton is a small time, individually produced artist o is having his arrangement shamelessly stole by Fox WITHOUT credit. I do see Couton asking for a monetary reward, he is looking for recognition for his arangement. A credit to him at the end of the show could have mitigated the entire conflict but Fox chose to take the nefarious route, as per usual, instead of doing the socially responsible thing.

Feb. 03 2013 02:18 PM
John from Bklyn

Empowerment? Yeah, dude. I'm sure that's what Sir Mix-A-Lot had in mind. The video really supports that reading.

So your rip off got ripped off? Cry me a river. Agents and lawyers and...Awwww.

Here's an idea: Forget irony and write an original tune. You can express all of your feelings about body image and empowerment without the message being confused.

Feb. 03 2013 10:37 AM
Eidolonkami from Westminster, CO

@gs1303 while I think your point is a valuable one, I think it's misplaced in this context. This song is about sex, not relationships, and as a woman I admit that I am more sexually attracted to someone's physical characteristics than to their minds in most cases, and that the same is mostly true for everyone. The point of the song is that a girl doesn't have to conform to a very narrow and unrealistic physical standard in order to be beautiful, that big is beautiful too. I can DEFINITELY get behind the message of this song.

Feb. 02 2013 02:20 PM

David, even a casual glance at the lyrics shows that you are wrong.

"She's just so ... black!"
"Take the average black man and ask him that"
"Even white boys got to shout/ Baby got back!"

Feb. 02 2013 01:22 PM

Yes the song say "take the average black man" and the line "thick soul sistas" then there is the line "other brotha's" so yeah...

Feb. 02 2013 01:12 PM

@gs1303 you know the song doesn't say anything about black people it's about big butts so just the fact that you brought up black people tells me you're the racist one.

Feb. 02 2013 12:36 PM

I'm disappointed that Mr. Colton did not think to include organizations like Black Girls Rock, or NCBW that advocate for the very women that are objectified in this song. Apparently for black women, it doesn't get better. Nice to know that everyone agrees that when little black girls that hear this song, now sung by a black and white man, they think the size of their ass is more important than the sharpness of their mind... because eff that, right? -__-

Feb. 02 2013 07:55 AM

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