Record Labels Continue Their Stand Against Parodies

from the let-it-go dept

Following the news earlier this week that Universal Music was threatening to sue Bank of America over a parody song a staff member performed at a company meeting, it seems that other labels have their own problems with the concept. Boing Boing points us to news that EMI has threatened legal action against a group of sports fans who put together a booklet of modified parody lyrics to various famous songs to build up some fan spirit. It’s hard to see how this could possibly be seen as damaging in anyway to EMI or its artists, but an EMI exec recently pointed out, they don’t care about the business issues when making decisions about who to sue. In other words, they threaten to sue because they can, not because it’s a good idea — which should be the point where the company recognizes that the lawyers have taken over for the business people and the company is no longer in good hands. There’s nothing wrong with lawyers in business positions, but they need to make business decisions, not legal ones. If the move serves no good business purpose, and has a high likelihood of creating serious ill will towards the company (and its artists), why would the company continue to do it?

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Comments on “Record Labels Continue Their Stand Against Parodies”

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Daniel (user link) says:

Re: Well...Ex---cu-use Me!

Are you stupid? Since when has someone singing a parody affected the RIAA? The only bad PR the RIAA get is when they sue someone for such a stupid thing as singing a parody – like its anything new!

“As Oscar Wilde is supposed to have said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not to be talked about at all” (quote taken from Wikipedia) This can be taken in 2 ways, since the only worse thing you can do with a song is not to sing/play/buy it, even a parody should be a good thing … And secondly, maybe we should just ignore all these stupid court cases since giving them the publicity they crave only plays into their hands.

John Duncan Yoyo says:

Re: Re:

Weird Al generally asks for permission. This is why It’s Only Billy Joel to Me hasn’t made it to an album. There is one song that Weird Al is giving out on his web page because the label chickened out of putting it on the Lynnwood Album.

Mad Magazine gets around the issue by not using the music and telling people what tune the the lyrics should be sung to. They had a court decsion to fall back on.

August West says:

Don't buy

Don’t buy from EMI. Don’t buy from Universal Music. This is at least as ridiculous as the RIAA things going, on, maybe even worse. Until the people running thse comanies pull their heads out of their asses and realize that WE pay their checks when we buy music, I’ll continue on my merry way of catching an artist live and asking if I can record the show. I don’t know who these people thinkthey are, but they obviously think way too highly of themselves, their jobs, and their actual importance in the grand scheme of things. When the actions of the company affects the artist by alienating the fans, the artist will move.

peter says:


RIAA should be happy that someone is even playing that Artist music at all. Who cares if it is a Parody of a song. That music is still being reconized for something who.

Duh maybe the artist is jealous because the parody is better than what they wrote.

Who cares stop the MADNESS… Put the law suits away and stop taking up valuable assets in the court system.

RIAA can you say “DEE DEE DEE” a quote from Carlos Mencia

webbers says:

Not just

This is so far beyond Stupid, that it actually has its own catagory…. A SPECIAL KIND OF STUPID. Next they will try to sue me for singing the song (badly) in the comfort of my own car! For the most part it is BECAUSE of the parodies that I buy the actual song! I have all of the Weird Al stuff, and about 95% of the original songs he made his parodies from. Has the RIAA never heard “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.”

teknosapien (profile) says:

Stop bitching and take a stance

Personally I don’t support any recording industry artists. If they are independent or signed with an independent label I will. 99% of the music I listen to comes from free sources — or the band itself– I use these sites to see if I will go and support the artist.

So if you dont like their tactics or the way they conduct business. DON’T DO BUSINESS with them. every time you do you are pretty much saying I agree with your business tactics.

BillDivX says:

I did take a stance...

I rarely ever buy a CD, and if I do it’s not published by one of the “big four.”

Even if I find a band on those labels that I like (a good recent example is system of a down) I will pirate the albums, and if I really like the band, I will send them money anonymously. I document everthing I do with regards to that. If the RIAA comes after me, I’ll make them look really bad regardless whether I win or lose, because I have every bit of evidence I need to prove that my “piracy” was motivated by a boycott, a stand on principles, and not by any desire for “theft”

It’s gonna be pretty hard for them to rationalize that “I simply didn’t want to spend my money on their product” since I generally send the band 10 times what they would get for the legitimate sales. I think that proves my point that I DO care about the artist (being one myself). just not a bunch of lawyer a-holes who have no clue how to make good music. they don’t deserve my money, and they don’t ever get a dime of it.

Not Mike says:

There’s nothing wrong with lawyers in business positions, but they need to make business decisions, not legal ones. If the move serves no good business purpose, and has a high likelihood of creating serious ill will towards the company (and its artists), why would the company continue to do it?

Because if you’re a lawyer, lawsuits _are_ your business and creating them is _good_ for business. And if you’re a lawyer, people already don’t like you so what have you got to loose?

Fernando says:

The BofA song was not a parody. Look it up — parody is imitating somebody’s work “for comic effect or ridicule.” The bank employees were dead serious about promoting comradeship between the two merging banks through their little ditty.

If General Motors wrote new lyrics for Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday” (“Chevrolet … all I want is a new Chevrolet …”) for a commercial, there would likewise be smacked down.

BradleyS says:

Re: Fernando

The BofA song was not, technically, a parody. It was, however, also not a commercial. It was sung in a meeting, towards company employees. It wasn’t made for marketing, but for the amusement of the bank employees.

Had it been intended for public view, UM would have a right to sue; the fact that it was made public, however, does not give them that right.

To compare this to home videos, it would be like somebody videotaping you performing karaoke at a bar, then you being sued when they upload that video to youtube.

Charles Griswold (user link) says:

Weird Al

OK, just to clear things up, here’s the real poop from the Weird Al FAQ.

Does Al get permission to do his parodies?

Al does get permission from the original writers of the songs that he parodies. While the law supports his ability to parody without permission, he feels it’s important to maintain the relationships that he’s built with artists and writers over the years. Plus, Al wants to make sure that he gets his songwriter credit (as writer of new lyrics) as well as his rightful share of the royalties.

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