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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 6:47PM

Oh heck, ANYTHING to get kids to read !!!


These days, all they do is watch TV and play stupid video games.  Kids today coming out of high school go to college not even able to construct a proper sentence, use basic grammar, punctuation, or proper word usage...  They cannot sit down and actually write a decent letter or set forth their thoughts on paper -- and it's because they don't read!  Reading helps kids learn to write, spell, and understand vocabulary...  how are they going to read stuff out of a college textbook if they can't get through Harry-freakin-Potter ??? !!!


Parents need to take a sledge hammer and smash the TV set, then toss the computer out the window, and take away the kids' dumb-phones...  and lock them in a room with nothing but BOOKS !!!  They'll be grateful later, I am sure !!!

Nov 30, 2012 6:47PM

Ah, literacy.  I still haven't figured out how cutting teachers' pay & benefits, & increasing class sizes is supposed to help.

Oh well, we can always blame the unions.

Nov 30, 2012 6:42PM
jjaiii - I would have to agree with you.  Though this parody seems to have been done for the right reasons...to engage young people to read...there are dozens and dozens being done to simply to turn a quick buck, and the owners of these songs need to hold the line until they figure which is which.
Nov 30, 2012 6:37PM

We have some winners there. Everybody parodied the song. But as soon you start promoting education, we need to put a stop to it.


We don't want to be associated with no kinda book learnin!!

Nov 30, 2012 6:34PM
The author of this story missed the point.  While the parody may be harmless, businesses must not set a precedent by allowing unauthorized use of copyrighted materials.
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