Jonathan Coulton responds to Fox/Glee's plagiarism of his song by "covering" it and making rival version available for sale

You'll have heard that Jonathan Coulton's iconic cover of Baby's Got Back was plagiarised by the Fox TV show "Glee" (it's not the first time). Coulton's story has been widely reported, but Fox/Glee have remained shameless about this.

Coulton's got a brilliant solution to this: he's released a "cover" of Glee's plagiarized version of his song, put it on Itunes as a rival to the official Fox version, and has announced that the proceeds will go to charity.

Jonathan Coulton ‘Covers’ Glee’s Ripoff of ‘Baby Got Back,’ Puts It on iTunes, Proceeds Go to Charity (Thanks, Larry!)


    1. All he did was “re-release” the exact same song he made back in 2005. It would be hilarious to see Fox try and sue for that.

  1. I’ll be sticking with the original (Sir Mix Alot), still good on him for doing this. Its disgustingly hypocritical how a “content provider” like Fox freaks out when someone messes with their content but they seem to feel perfectly entitled to blatantly lift someone else’s work. Even if said work was just a cover version of a classic.

    1. Because in their minds only corporations can hold copyrights.
      Copyright is only meant for them to make money, it has no other function.

  2. This is not quite what he did. The “in the style of Glee” is just a name change. It’s the same track that Coulton released years ago. He’s just mocking them by claiming to be imitating their imitation (well, pretty much complete rip-off) of him.
    See his post:

    Although copping Glee’s version would have been kinda awesome in its own way!

    1. Yeah. Wish the BB article mentioned this, because it really is the best part. He didn’t release a cover of their cover. He just re-released his original version with a new Glee-mocking name. Which is just awesome. 

  3. When I first read that Glee had been so lazy that they had even left the changed lyric of “Johnny C” in, I knew that they were not just thieves, but lazy thieves.
    Important to note that Coulton is giving Mix-a-Lot his fair share and donating the balance to charities.

    1. He wrote original music for the piece. And they didn’t cover it; they used his recording of his original music.

      1. You keep saying that and it’s still not true. Music licensing does not split the music from the lyrics. Coulton relied on a compulsory mechanical license to use the Sir Mix-A-Lot lyrics which specifically does not allow a change in melody.

        “A compulsory license includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement SHALL NOT CHANGE THE MELODY or fundamental character of the work, AND SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO PROTECTION AS A DERIVATIVE WORK under this title, EXCEPT WITH THE EXPRESS CONSENT of the copyright owner.

        – 17 USC § 115 (subsection A2) – Scope of exclusive rights in nondramatic musical works: Compulsory license for making and distributing phonorecords

  4. Hilarious, though I wonder if this will eventually end up confusing people who aren’t already familiar with Coulton and with Glee’s plagiarism. Simply naming it “in the style of Glee” is practically guaranteed to make those people assume that Glee was first.

    1. Agreed. I wish he’d named it something else. “In the style of Glee” sounds like an admission that Glee’s version is the original. But…not sure what else he could have named it. 

  5. Already had it, but bought it again. Best 99 cents I’ve spent on anything that isn’t made of latex.

  6. Oh, I smell someone at Fox coming up with “Hey, see what I mean, he should have been thankful in the first place. Now, he’s got a lot more attention!”

  7. Would love to hear what Mixalot thinks of all this. Probably just loves the extra royalty cheques. Well i hope he’s getting something anyway.

  8. Actually a lot of people heard about him years ago, either because they listen to geek rock or played Portal, and most Glee watchers won’t have heard of him due to Fox not giving him credit for his music.

    And the file sharing comment is a ridiculous comparison. This is about an independent artist being ripped off by a large company that can easily afford to pay him, not a large company complaining about lost profits that don’t exist in the first place.

  9. I know who Johnathan Coulton is; he is also well known as the author of the song ‘Still Alive’ used in the video game Portal. I have yet to see an episode of Glee, and have no intention of breaking the streak. If it were up to Fox, no-one would know who they ripped off, because they have a policy of not crediting the musicians they rip off, or even the ones they licence songs from. Get back under your bridge.

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