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.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: apple

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

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

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:


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.

G Thompson (profile) says:

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!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...