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What Do You Think of the Glee vs. Jonathan Coulton Mess?

What Do You Think of the Glee vs. Jonathan Coulton Mess?

A couple of weeks ago, the general public had no idea who Jonathan Coulton was. But by now, quite a few people have heard his name at least once in reference to the TV show Glee. In case you aren't aware... no, he’s not the latest actor on the show; Coulton is an indie musician (who, before this debacle, was probably best known in the geek community for the theme songs for the Portal video games) who, believe it or not, has been ripped off by Ryan Murphy.

Coulton was sent a leaked YouTube video of a Glee version of the song “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-A-Lot. It sounded strikingly similar to his own arrangement, but there was no confirmation whether it was official or not.

And you guessed it. It was official. Glee apparently ripped off Coulton’s arrangement of the song and gave him NO credit.

This seems a little bit ridiculous, considering Glee is a show about the underdog, and it would cost them very little to credit the musician responsible. BUT…Ryan Murphy and co. are, legally at least, in the right here. Coulton covered the song, so he couldn’t copyright his own arrangement of it. As a result, there’s nothing legally Coulton can do, and Glee isn’t liable for stealing the arrangement.

But there’s more than just legal issues here. And what’s more, according to this Wired article, this isn’t the first time that Glee has done this.

So we take it to you, Mindhutters. What do you think? Is it okay for Ryan Murphy to take this liberty, since he's not really ripping off a song, only an arrangement of a song? Or is it a "stealing is stealing, dummy" kind of sitch?

Tags: tv, indie rock, glee, music, stealing, jonathan coulton

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About the Author
Swapna Krishna

Swapna is a Washington, DC-based freelance editor who loves all things space and sci fi. You can find her book reviews at S. Krishna’s Books ( and on Twitter at @skrishna.

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