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Teen 'Read It' video incites rights debate

Sony recants position & allows teens to post "Beat It" parody.

By Britt Olson MSN Living Editor Nov 29, 2012 5:03PM

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.”

Video still from ‘Read It’ (lansdownepublic via YouTube, (http://aka.ms/lansdownepublic)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."

Bing: Watch the "Read It" video and compare to Michael Jackson's video for "Beat It."

"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.

Business execs seem to always “wanna be startin’ somethin’.”

Video still from ‘Read It’ (lansdownepublic via YouTube, (http://aka.ms/lansdownepublic)

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Nov 30, 2012 7:31PM
I'm guessing Sony's lawyers haven't heard of the Fair Use law that protects parodies or remixes....

Guess they need to Read-it too.

Nov 30, 2012 7:09PM
The irony is, it is well established that the more educated demographics are also those who consume more, spend more (because they make more), and buy more expensive (luxury) items with their disposable income. Sony, a brand synonymous with higher-priced luxury items, if anything, should be encouraging such "messages" they seem to object to.
Nov 30, 2012 7:07PM
why could weird al do a parody for $$$?  and these kids can't use it harmlessly to promote education??????  remember  "Eat It"?????
Nov 30, 2012 7:03PM
what's the problem?  FINALLY!  there are some kids who actually know what a book is and sony says oh no you can't do that, you're sending a message.  a positive one at that.  i wish i could get my kid to pick up a book and read one instead of looking at it like it's a foreign object.  they can probably spell too and not have to use spell check all the time and all because they just want to READ IT!!

Nov 30, 2012 6:57PM
This is not "unauthorized" use.  It is "fair use" which is authorized by the statute & protected by the copyright statute.
Nov 30, 2012 6:54PM
Thanks, Sony for trying to ban this video - otherwise I wouldn't have had a chance to enjoy it and see all the talent involved.
Nov 30, 2012 6:48PM
Sony's position is:

We don't need no education,
We don't need no thought control
All in all it's just another brick in the wall
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