Teen 'Read It' video incites rights debate
Sony recants position & allows teens to post "Beat It" parody.
Mashups and sampling have become staple techniques of the music industry. But when it comes to toying with the property of the Jackson estate, even the best intentions can’t escape the litigious reach of the acrimonious clan.
Several high school students who frequent the Lansdowne Public Library in Pennsylvania discovered this on Nov. 19. Sony-ATV Records temporarily obstructed the posting of their amateur video promoting teen literacy because it featured music similar to Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It.”
Teen readers from the Lansdowne borough of Philadelphia altered the singer’s famous chart topper into what they considered a parody titled “Read It.” The students wrote their own lyrics and recorded the song on Garage Band. Sony-ATV, which co-owns the track with the pop singer’s estate, deemed the “Read It” video a violation on the grounds that it conveyed a “message.”
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Lansdowne Public Library staff and patrons contested Sony’s decision, even producing another video, “Just Un-Ban It.” On Monday evening, Sony-ATV altered its position, granting the video "an exception."
"As long as it's on YouTube, we don't have an issue," says Sandra Giannella the library's director. "When you [search for] "Beat It" thousands of parodies, some very senseless and tasteless, surface. It's unclear why we were singled out."
The video features teens crawling out of a book drop and a duel between digital and traditional books.
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While it is highly unlikely that the Lansdowne teens’ video could injure Jackson’s legacy in any way, the video is certainly getting more attention than it would have without the legal debate it issued.
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Video still from ‘Read It’ (lansdownepublic via YouTube, (http://aka.ms/lansdownepublic)
Wow! I thought they did a fantastic job! Sony: Such a horrible message that they are sending - read it! But then again, if children start reading more, that will cut into Sony's profits.
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