Weird Al Wonders Why Sony Music Never Gave Him His White & Nerdy Cut Of YouTube's Equity Payout

from the white-and-nerdy dept

Back when Google bought YouTube in 2006, one of the side notes on the deal which didn't get that much attention was that right before the deal closed, YouTube gave a bunch of equity to the major record labels, structured more or less as a payoff in exchange for not suing YouTube for a few years. The most beautiful part in all of this for the labels, of course, was that they got a ton of free cash which they never planned to share with artists. Since the deal was done as equity, the labels could insist that it had nothing to do with royalties, and they could keep the whole amount -- and they did. But, of course, if artists expected the labels to protect their interests, they were out of luck.

It seems that some artists are finally bringing this point out. We've covered the many, many lawsuits over the past few years where artists are suing their labels over whether or not iTunes purchases count as a sale (tiny royalty) or a license (big royalty). However, some are also bringing up other wrongs. Eminem's producers, FBT, who were one of the first of these cases, specifically called out the fact that they never received any of the YouTube money.

And, now, Weird Al Yankovic is joining the party. In yet another one of these lawsuits about the difference between a license and a sale, Weird Al also focuses on the missing YouTube payments and points out that his song White & Nerdy was hugely popular on YouTube around the time of the buyout.

This may be a difficult legal argument to win, but if Weird Al (or, rather, his production company Ear Booker Enterprises) can show that Sony Music did the equity deal under that structure specifically to avoid paying out royalties, things could get interesting, especially for other artists whose work was popular on YouTube at the time...


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  1.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 3:34pm

    What artists should be suing the labels about is all the takedowns they do. The labels use takedowns to keep artists in obscurity and keep their fans angry.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 3:34pm

    Sony music needs that money to help defend the artists... I hope they win the artists need their protection from the evil pirates trying to take all their money.

     

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  3.  
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    Thomas (profile), Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    I am confused..

    Does Sony ever pay any money to artists? I thought most of the money simply went to executive bonuses, hookers, and drugs.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 4:23pm

    Weird Al Wonders Why Sony Music Never Gave Him His White & Nerdy Cut Of YouTube's Equity Payout


    Why the administrative costs of the account were higher than his portion of the payout of course.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 4:24pm

    Weird Al Wonders Why Sony Music Never Gave Him His White & Nerdy Cut Of YouTube's Equity Payout

    Why hookers and blow eat up a lot of the payout of course.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    Re:

    Nah, the terms of his contract clearly stated that any work done was to have all its profits given to Lucifer, Shaitan and Hades.

     

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  7.  
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    THE_DARK_ONE, Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Re:

    CURSES, LEWS THERIN!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 5:58pm

    Atlantic Records: Serves you right, "Weird Al". This is for saying "YOU SUCK"!

    Sony: And this is for "Don't Download This Song"!

    John Steele: And this is for "Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me"!

     

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  9.  
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    Ed C., Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 9:55pm

    Re:

    Except there's no money for anyone else to take, Sony already took it all.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2012 @ 10:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Oh if we close out the syllogism this suggests it makes sense.

    Money is needed to defend artists from Pirates.
    Sony keeps the money from the artists.
    QED Sony is a pirate.

     

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  11.  
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    SofaKing (profile), Apr 4th, 2012 @ 12:01am

    Re: I am confused..

    Sounds like the perfect place for junkies to work.

    Do you like to get high?
    Do you like having a different hooker every night?
    Do you like fucking the little guy over?
    Do you like stirring up shit for personal amusement?
    Are you tired of heebie jeebies?
    Are you tired of worrying if you're hooker is std free?

    If you answered yes to any of these apply at Sony.

     

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    Michael, Apr 4th, 2012 @ 5:09am

    Just another reason to avoid signing with major labels and remain independent.

     

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    geoff erickson, Apr 7th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    wierd Al suing youtube

    Myself I try to buy as little Apple products and Itunes as I can because why give corporations loke Apple, youtube, etc. my money? Since I have kids I was forced to buy Ipods. Myself I use a $20 mp3 player. I also buy viynl as much as I can. I am Canadian but I would rather buys records made by my friends in the USA or Germany then CDs made in a commununist corporate state like China. People... quit buying crap made by corporations. Buy 2nd hand CDs from private record stores. Buy viynl direct from the artist. America.... start making turntables in Michigan...buy American (or Canadian too).

     

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    Auditrix (profile), Apr 16th, 2012 @ 7:49pm

    I am biased because our firm's audit report is the basis for this suit, but I am disappointed that other auditors failed to try to secure full YouTube compensation for their clients.

    The labels pursued a similar strategy with record clubs when record clubs mattered, so this is nothing new.

    Now that several litigators have approached me who are interested in exploring a class action against the labels re: YouTube, it is too late. (Most artists have lost their rights to object to 2006 accountings.)

    However, the music companies do have equity interests in certain music services, so you may yet read about similar claims.

     

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


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