The story of Jonathan Coulton and song copying on Glee was one of the biggest copyrightrelated stories of 2012, with plenty of media coverage (and even a fictionalized TV adaptation). For the uninitiated: In 1992, Anthony Ray, a.k.a. Sir Mix-A-Lot, released the song “Baby Got Back.” The song, a “chart-topping multi-platinum Grammy-winning hip-hop celebration of female pulchritude,” is widely considered a modern classic. In October 2005, an artist named Jonathan Coulton released a humorous “cover” arrangement of “Baby Got Back” that retained Sir Mix-A-Lot’s lyrics, but also added new melodic and rhythmic material set against a smooth, folk-style acoustic guitar-led accompaniment. Coulton’s “joke” arrangement became an overnight viral hit due to the absurd juxtaposition of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s lyrics and Coulton’s crooning.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on March 13, 2014. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Newman, Joe, "“Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma” – “Baby Got Back,” Glee, and Moral Rights" (2014). AELJ Blog. 37.