Sweet Brown Has Her Voice Autotuned, Sues 'iTunes' And Others For $15 Million

from the not-likely-to-go-over-well dept

Eric Wisti alerts us a case we hadn't heard about before. You may recall a few years back how the Bed Intruder song became a huge hit, after the Autotune the News guys took an offbeat TV interview and turned it into a song. They, famously, provided some of the proceeds from that song to the interviewee, Antoine Dodson. Apparently, last year, a radio show called the Bob Rivers show sought to do something similar with an interview with a woman in Oklahoma, who goes by the name Sweet Brown (real name: Kimberly Wilkins), about a fire in her apartment complex. Here's the original interview.
Then here's the "No time for bronchitis" song:
And, because it's interesting, here's a video from a day or two later showing her general reaction, including a mention that her son had posted the video to his own Facebook page:
Months later, however, it appears that Sweet Brown decided to sue the radio program and also iTunes since the song is there. Since the article is woefully unclear on the details, I pulled up the docket, and have posted some of the key filings below. My guess is that she's going to have a difficult time. The original lawsuit was filed without a lawyer in state court and it shows. It claims "plagiarism sampling," "fraud," and "negligence" -- and demands $15 million. Somewhere along the way, she actually found lawyers to represent her and they filed a very different complaint that focused on Oklahoma's publicity rights law. The case was then removed to federal court, where it belonged in the first place, and the Bob Rivers show made a compelling case for dismissal -- noting that she had consented to the interview and is not a well known person, for which a right of publicity would apply. Not long after that, her lawyers sought to withdraw from the case, citing "unresolvable differences between counsel and the plaintiffs that require withdrawal of counsel," which the court later allowed.

There was also an attempt at summary judgment that failed, when Brown failed to show that she had served "iTunes." Of course, even if that happens, Apple has plenty of reasonable defenses, as a third party service provider, for why it's not liable.

All that said, there is something about the video that feels exploitative. The Autotune the News guys made sure that Antoine Dodson got something out of his unexpected fame, and you can see why it might have made good general sense to have cut Brown in on any proceeds, even if the Bob Rivers show was not legally required to do so.








Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Nigel (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:28am

    pfft, well done. That is actually pretty damn funny.

    Nigel

     

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

  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:40am

    No

    All that said, there is something about the video that feels exploitative.

    How? She said something in public, and the public ran with it.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Somewhere along the way, she actually found lawyers to represent her and they filed a very different complaint that focused on Oklahoma's publicity rights law. The case was then removed to federal court, where it belonged in the first place . . . .

    Why would a state law claim necessarily belong in federal court?

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    Robert (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:56am

    Awesome

    It was really well done! I wonder how many others will copy such an idea. I can see where she's coming from with feeling exploited, but maybe she should take it with a grain of salt.

    Better yet, run with it! Do performances!

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    I knew this was going to happen one day.

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    cpt kangarooski, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Why would a state law claim necessarily belong in federal court?

    Diversity jurisdiction is the typical reason.

     

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

  7.  
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    PlagueSD (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 12:31pm

    Lawsuit??? Ain't nobody got time for that!!!!

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Awesome

    She's done at least one commercial already. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6wH0k4X3Us

     

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

  9.  
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    Zos (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 1:31pm

    Re: No

    something being legal, while still being a dick move are not mutually exclusive.

     

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

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 3:33pm

    Greed

    Sweet Brown goes from a typical unknown person to internet famous overnight, gains new employment opportunities appearing in commercials as a result of video and autotune remixes like this, but wants to sue those that took her from obscurity into the public spotlight in a positive way for millions?

    The fable of The Dog and Its Reflection comes to mind.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Mar 21st, 2013 @ 11:45am

    That's a reason to remove to federal court, sure. But there could very well have been jurisdiction over the defendant in state court. I'm wondering why Mike thinks it belonged in state court in the first place. I doubt he was thinking of diversity jurisdiction.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 7:19pm

    Re: Greed

    Sounds like the MPAA and the Boston Strangler VCR.

     

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

  13.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 9:19pm

    with the profuse amount of parody Songs that this gas done, and they are ALL extremely funny and have targeted people/bands more famous than this upstart woman I think they know more about the law of transformation, parody and Publicity rights then these stupid lawyers with their *hand waving signifying unknown magicks* "Plagiarism Sampling" (WTF is that!!!) and neg.. (LOL in your dreams)


    Here are a few of Bob's famous hits: {Note: A lot of people think Weird Al wrote/sung these.. he didn't]
    Dirty Deeds done with Sheep: You will never listen to AC/DC the same EVER again {Warning: New Zealanders should refrain from clicking]

    Cats in the Kettle: Garfield and Cat lovers will howl

    Windows 95 Sucks : This is parodied from the original Rolling Stones song that was done for Win 95. YES Bob Rivers has been doing this for decades and I loved it then too ;)

    Bisexual: Parody of the Queen song Bicycle (no fat bottomed girls to be seen either) A Queen parody

    He also has done a major "American Pie Eulogy" song (Parody of original Don Maclean) that totally bagged Madonna's interpretation of the song that peeved Madonna's management no end [not on Youtube but on Bob's website - below]

    PMS : Lock up ya wives and daughters before you hear this ;P Another AC/DC parody that's awesome

    and my favourite of all time: 99 Luft Balloon's Parody : I'll let you all click and learn the parody name and song: *BFG* And it works with his other song here

    For more full length songs (there are over 300] with lyrics for all, go to Bob's website and click on the Twisted Tunes link on left hand side. Have fun!

     

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

  14.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 21st, 2013 @ 9:21pm

    Re:

    *gas = guy's [tablets for the spelling LOSS!]

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2013 @ 10:52pm

    Her exploiting the tune gone viral didn't work out so now she's trying to make a buck this way.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 1:11am

    Re:

    And yet, out_of_the_asscrack will still find some way to claim YouTube is a grifter.

     

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

  17.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 2:00am

    More evidence that once they were able to set a price to sampling they started screwing it all up. They all raised the prices to stupid levels, to beat the other guy to the punch and in the meantime screwed up the path of music...

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Awesome

    Which will undermine her case, I think.

     

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


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