YouTube Star VenetianPrincess Silenced By Music Publishers Claiming Parody Isn't Fair Use

from the creative-stifling dept

Danny points us to yet another story of copyright being used to stifle creativity, rather than enhance it. It’s the story of Jodie Rivera, better known as VenetianPrincess, for years “the most subscribed to female on YouTube.” She creates video parodies of famous pop songs, such as the Lady Gaga parody below, which has nearly three million views:

However, apparently she hasn’t been releasing videos lately, and a few weeks ago, took to YouTube to explain the unfortunate reasons why. It seems that various music publishers are telling her that parody is not fair use, and, from the sound of it, have been threatening her if she doesn’t pay up. You can see her explanation here:
She doesn’t explain the full details, but it’s not hard to guess what happened. The publishers, who represent the songwriters, not the performers, can likely claim that while the song may be a parody of the musicians, it’s still using the actual music, and thus is not fair use (there are some other legal arguments as to why it might not be fair use as well). But, if you look at it from a common sense standpoint, it’s ridiculous. These parodies don’t take anything away from the original songs, and, if anything, probably serve to make them even more popular. So, once again, we have a case of copyright law being used to stifle creativity, rather than enhance it.

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Comments on “YouTube Star VenetianPrincess Silenced By Music Publishers Claiming Parody Isn't Fair Use”

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38 Comments
ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s only one that he didn’t.

Actually, there are a bunch that he “didn’t” but Amish Paradise isn’t one of them. He asked Coolio’s record company to ask Coolio if he could use the music, and somehow (though Coolio and Weird Al’s stories differ here,) either Coolio or Coolio’s record company gave Weird Al the go ahead, only to have Coolio later object. Weird Al didn’t have to send any of the proceeds to Coolio, but he normally sends out royalty checks to the original artist, and Coolio didn’t get any more money than any of the other artists get.

Weird Al plays a lot of songs at his concerts that do not appear on any of his albums. Apparently the reason is that those artists (Eminem, Paul McCartney, Jason Mraz, and James Blunt) have denied him producing parodies of their songs.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

That’s the problem. Weird Al did the smart thing from a business standpoint. Getting permission upfront prevents lawsuits after the fact, which are expensive even if you “win.”

The problem is that the interests in the music industry know they can make a buck (or several), so getting permission for something that would preferably have been established as fair use in a court case years ago is now still a looming lawsuit liability.

Off-topic: Did Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox have a daughter that I never heard about?

Eugene (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Although technically, Weird Al’s songs fall under satire because (aside from the rare “smells like Nirvana”-style song) they aren’t directly commenting on the material, but instead using it to comment on something else. Satire is a MUCH weaker argument for fair use than direct parody. So Al isn’t just doing the smart thing from a business standpoint, but from an actual legal one as well.

It’s stupid, but that’s how it works.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Weird Al

> 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.

From Weird Al’s website. He considers his songs parodies, and doesn’t believe he needs permission. I agree with him.

Eugene (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Weird Al

I agree with him too. But since he always get permission, there’s never been a situation where he’s had to test his theory that the law supports specifically what he does.

In other words, the fact that he’s prudent, polite, and generally a nice guy all around makes the question of whether the law agrees with him moot.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

The frak?

“The publishers, who represent the songwriters, not the performers, can likely claim that while the song may be a parody of the musicians, it’s still using the actual music, and thus is not fair use…”

Huh? How are you going to make a parody unless there’s a recognizable component to latch on to? It’s just nonsense otherwise.

Jesse says:

So let me get this straight…for any given song, there is a separate copyright for instrumental and vocals? Is there a separate copyright for the each instrument…better yet each drum (snare drum, bass drum, cowbell…)? How does this work?

So they are saying that she has to re-record the instrumental to make it parody…right?

What if the whole song was originally instrumental, with no vocals. Could you re-record it and call it parody?

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So let me get this straight…for any given song, there is a separate copyright for instrumental and vocals?

Not exactly. The songwriters (and publishers) own the rights to the underlying song, including the notes and lyrics. The recording artists (in actuality, the labels) own the rights to the recorded version of that song.

That’s why recording artists don’t get royalties from terrestrial radio. It’s also how you can pay statutory rates to publishers to re-record a cover version, but if you sample a recording, you have to pay publishers those statutory rates and negotiate rates with the record label (which are not statutory).

This makes it much cheaper to re-record a song than to use an existing recording. Ever wonder why commercials re-record famous songs? That’s why.

In her case, she would have to pay the publishers. Assuming, of course, that it’s not fair use as “parody,” which it should be.

Unsurprisingly, paying statutory rates is cheaper than paying a lawyer; that’s why Weird Al (and others, like SNL) do it.

cannonfodder (profile) says:

scum media corporations

they do it time and again!

they keep removing this parody from JewTube:

http://www.kontraband.com/videos/23502/Newport-State-Of-Mind/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyoDUoH7BZc

FTA: “WARNING – THIS VIDEO WILL LIKELY BE PULLED BY YOUTUBE BECAUSE OF A RIGHTS DISPUTE FROM EMI RECORDS – ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN
Watch this wonderful spoof of New York State of Mind by Jay-Z and Alicia.”

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Been listening to her for a while now

She has been kowtow’ng to the music industry for a while now. Her latest songs aren’t even close to the original music, and this was almost expected. She was messing around with the music, making it similar to, but not exactly identical to the original, and has not been singing like the original recording artists. Listen to some of her original songs, and she was pretty close to dead on with the original, while listening to “Accident Prone” she almost parodies Lady GaGa’s singing style to the extreme without sounding like Lady GaGa.

I like her parodies, but the moment she allowed the music industry a foot, they pushed for a mile. It’s sad, but I cannot blame her for the problem since if it was me, I’d likely do the same. The sad thing is that she is quite talented, and could easily be “the next Weird Al.” Sadly, like every other business run just for the sake of business, and not for the sake of the artists or love of producing, the music industry will continue until they have stifled everything for the purpose of short term gains, and then there will be nothing left. Either that, or the revolution will occur and they will find themselves under the guillotine trying to figure out how they got there (not realizing that “Let them eat cake” hasn’t worked ever, and it only serves to piss everyone else off.)

Parody and satire should be protected (more than just a positive defense, but an outright law that prevents companies from taking action against parody…not just this type of parody, but http://www.fordsucks.com parody too,) and it is sad that society has allowed large, multinational organizations put short-term profit above the long-term arguably “American” past-time of parody. Could you imagine what the US would be like if our forefather’s decided to outlaw parody? I suggest that we’d all be saluting a different flag while singing “God Save the Queen” (since parody was used quite masterfully for getting out information to the populace under the heads of the English before and during the American Revolution.)

BruceLD says:

Subject

She should not see this as a bad thing because…

1) She was making parodies, not making a dime from it, and there can be no doubt that the record labels were profiting from the exposure she was giving to the song/artist. In other words, she was profiting NOTHING for her work/time/effort and someone else was. How do they show their appreciation? They threaten her.

2) She should use this opportunity from the exposure she’s getting to start to produce her own music, and who knows…go on tour? Then when the labels come a knockin’…she can tell them to go phuck themselves. She stays indie, she sells her music, she goes on tour and she pockets every single dime and she does not have to answer to anyone.

This is the way it should be done. Artists should become completely independent and keep all of the profits for themselves…and one single dime should NOT go to the labels.

Common Fucking Sense says:

Duh:

People have been bringing up Weird Al, and how “unfair” the copyright laws are.

Well allow me to shed some light on your shadowed..flat heads.

First things first: Weird Al performed the music he parodied with his band. Since he didn’t use the ACTUAL music that the original songs used, he is protected under creative commons. Which means the songwriters can kiss his ass.

So unless VP can prove she or some “band” she knows performed the “music” she is parodying…then the songwriters have every right to sue her for every dime she makes from stealing THEIR hard work and profiting from it.

It’s Lady Gaga, come on people. That shit isn’t hard to create via garageband or logic. She might be a pianist, but that music is no symphonic piece by Mozart.

So no, the copyright laws are perfectly fair, thank you. just because it requires you to have some musical talent to make a parody doesn’t mean it isn’t fair. It just means you have no business in music if you have no fucking talent.

Auf wiedersehen.

Aaron (profile) says:

Re: Duh:

“stealing THEIR hard work”

It isn’t “stealing” as you so eloquently call it, and copyright has never been a “property right,” either. It’s supposed to be an artificial incentive for authors/artists/musicians/etc to make more creative works. It’s a shame corporations got involved with and started using that propaganda phrase, “intellectual property.” The world would be much better if that term and the corporate bastards who support it never existed.

“It’s Lady Gaga, come on people. That shit isn’t hard to create via garageband or logic. She might be a pianist, but that music is no symphonic piece by Mozart.”
“So no, the copyright laws are perfectly fair, thank you. just because it requires you to have some musical talent to make a parody doesn’t mean it isn’t fair. It just means you have no business in music if you have no fucking talent.”

We’re not talking about talent here. We’re talking about locking up every damn song, instrumental, lyric, performance, etc for 100+ years (pending MPAA lobbying for extensions) for no reason other than “this garbage is ‘sacred.’ Let’s never let anyone use it without paying us a ridiculous profit in some way.”
But if you want to argue about “talent,” maybe you shouldn’t be taking the side of the corporations that spew out 90+% of the garbage “music” we have today and start promoting someone with actual “talent.”

Montag Fortz says:

Copyright

You’re right on. Copyright laws are mostly used by corporations to “protect” intellectual property. What a crock of shit! It seems that everyone, including the accused infringers, has forgotten that one of the most important measures of fair us is whether the property is used to create something new. For example, a researcher can’t just copy everything he finds in a journal and file it. He must demonstrate that he has utilized the material to create new intellectual property. If Rivera isn’t creating something new and innovative through her parodies, then what the Hell is she doing?

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