After Hundreds Of 'Empire State Of Mind' Parodies... Why Does EMI Suddenly Take One Down?

from the these-copyrights-will-inspire-you dept

Nearly a year ago, the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys collaboration Empire State of Mind was released. If you haven't heard it, you've been living under something of a rock:
The song went from popular to ridiculously popular after Jay-Z and Keys performed it before game two of the World Series at Yankee Stadium:
It also got a bit of a boost when Stephen Colbert took on the Jay-Z role and did a version with Keys, where he changed the lyrics to be about living in the suburbs:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News
Of course, that version -- a parody of the original -- was really just picking up on a popular trend showing up all over YouTube: people rewriting and performing Empire State of Mind with lyrics to reflect their own hometowns or other cultural groups. They were everywhere. A few months back, I remembered seeing one site list out 55 of the best such parodies (some much better than others), including all sorts of cities, big and small, as well as random other versions, such as College Humor's amusing Galactic Empire State of Mind, starring Darth Vader.
So, it seemed a bit odd that, nearly a year after this phenomenon, yet another of these parodies, called the Newport State of Mind, about the Welsh town of Newport went viral, with over a million views, but such is life in the viral video world.

Even odder? Apparently EMI has issued a takedown notice for just that one video pulling it off YouTube. This is despite literally hundreds of Empire State of Mind parodies on YouTube. Those 55 best parodies? They're all on YouTube (with the exception of the Darth Vader one...). Honestly, I thought this had to be a mistake, or some weird Content ID error by YouTube. Considering the vast number of these parodies that have all remained up this whole time, would EMI really issue a takedown for this one parody?

However, EMI seems to have confirmed that it's taken down the video. According to the BBC report:
A statement from EMI said: "When a song is created based wholly on any of our writers' works, those writers need to grant their permission.

"If that permission isn't granted, then we ask the service in question to remove the song."
And what about all those other parodies? And, of course, at least in the US, parody is often protected as fair use. I recognize this particular parody was done in Wales, but, still, the decision to take down this one video seems really, really odd.

Oh, and one other bit of irony? In looking up some of these parodies, I found this article, which notes that the key musical hook used by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys are sampled from a 1970s track from The Moments called Love on A Two Way Street:
So, it's a bit amusing that EMI is complaining about others building on top of this particular work...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Keven Sutton (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 11:57am

    been hiding all this time.

    well, consider me a rock dweller.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:01pm

      Re: been hiding all this time.

      like omigod how could u have not heard that song?!!!?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      btrussell (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:30pm

      Re: been hiding all this time.

      Ditto.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

      Re: been hiding all this time.

      You're not alone. I barely know who Jay-Z is and I'm not sure about the chick. Is she a newer artist?

      Disclaimer: I don't live under a rock, but I don't listen to that kind of music (punk rock is where my heart is). The parody was pretty funny, but I wouldn't listen to it more than once.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Proud member of the Rock Dwellers of America!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    AdamR (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    I wonder if they every gave credit(or cash) to the group for using the hook?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

      Re:

      I would assume so. When a major label is putting major money behind a release by major artists, they are generally pretty good about clearing all the samples.

      I guess stranger things have happened, though.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

      Re:

      Odds are pretty good that they did pay. However, odds are also good that the beat producer made the whole song using unlicensed samples, and that the label licensed them after the fact. Sample-based hip-hop producers absolutely rely on using unauthorized sounds throughout the creative process.

      That's why a lot of early hip-hop has faced legal issues years after it was released. When albums like BIG's Ready To Die came out, nobody had really thought much about sampling so the album made it to the shelves without anyone noticing the copyright concerns. Years later (and years after BIG's death) that album was actually pulled from stores for awhile as the label retroactively sorted out licensing deals.

      Another example is Kanye West's All Falls Down, which uses a chorus by Syleena Johnson. Though it was originally produced with a sample, when it came time to release the album the label discovered it was actually cheaper to hire Syleena to re-record the hook than it was to license the appropriate sample (about 10 seconds) from the existing recording.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    R. Miles (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:38pm

    Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

    "If you haven't heard it, you've been living under something of a rock."
    Someone please get this rock off me. It hurts.

    I didn't even click the video links.

    You know, after shifting a bit to make this post, the rock doesn't hurt now. Never mind.

    I'm going back where it's safe.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Joe, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    sigh....

    This is what the rest of the world see's when they read this article.

    http://tinypic.com/r/2iqdamw/4

    It's like having a youtube embed that says - to watch this video, go to youtube.com. But not telling you which video it is. In other words, f*in useless.

    No faults to Mike on this. I know he's been on the receiving end of it before. Still damn annoying...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    End result: The customers just have another reason to not like the recording industry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Karen, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:01pm

    But I Like My Rock!

    I agree w/ Keven; it's not a matter of music not being important, just this genre isn't important to me. It it doesn't pop up on one of my special-tailored Pandora stations, I don't hear it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Scott Mehlman (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:02pm

    Never heard of it

    Can honestly say I never heard of this song, or the parodies until today. I must not be cool anymore :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    deathspal (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:38pm

    Rock / I (Hip hop is not the only music out there)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Modplan (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    They were in need of correcting any way, seems they got Newport mixed up with a few other towns and cities...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx8CZyFM4b4

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Eugene (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:07pm

    Do you even need permission to create a parody?? I thought that was one of those things that are protected by fair use?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Fsm, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:29pm

    Oh the noise...

    I just pressed play on all of those videos at once. THE NOISE. STOP THE NOISE.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    herodotus (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to sue degenerate offspring for copyright infringement, or to let them starve for their obvious musical inability, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind...

    Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

    The one thing apparent is that, they are using ineffective tools to find infringement and are not bothering to fact check that.

    How about suing them for false statements I mean they already know the tools get it wrong but don't bother checking because there is no penalty for doing so apparently, despite the law being clear about copyfraud.

    I think it is professional negligence when those people commit so many errors they are not layman, they are supposed to be trained professionals what are the excuses to get so many things wrong?

    Have those professionals no obligation to check anything?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Rose M. Welch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    It's never been so good to live under a rock.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Howard, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:39pm

    Keys lip sync on the World Series one.....just sayin...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:25pm

    I guess I live under a rock....

    I hadn't heard the song until I clicked the link here, and I can't say I care for it much. The Star Wars bit looks humorous, but I still don't like the music.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Jarrett Streebin, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    the best one...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    horace (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 12:49am

    That's Odd...

    Seeing as Nas did a song called 'New York State of mind' sixteen years ago (in his debut album Illmatic - best hip-hop album of all time), why would they be issuing takedown orders for a concept that really isn't their original idea?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 7:24am

      Re: That's Odd...

      The actual creators never have anything to do with the takedowns. Often enough they are big fans of the parodies, but are powerless to stop the label/whoever owns the rights to the recordings from issuing takedowns. Such was the case with the Downfall Hitler re-captionings, which were praised by nearly everyone involved in the movie but were aggressively targeted by the studio.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Griff (profile), Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re: That's Odd...

        Turns out it was the writers (inc JayZ), not the label, that took it down.

        The spoof writers wanted to release it as a charity single and the writers objected.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This