[Insert clever lyric pun here]
November 23, 2008 6:57 AM   Subscribe

Hall & Oates are suing their publisher, Warner/Chappell Music Inc., claiming the publisher failed to enforce the copyright on their song "Maneater" and sue an unnamed singer-songwriter (quite possibly Nelly Furtado) for infringement. The only problem is, Timbaland and Nate "Danja" Hills - the composers of the Furtado track - also work for Warner/Chappel Music. What happens when publishers don't protect songwriters from other songwriters working for the same publisher.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (45 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Because all those art loving companies do is protecting the artists from evil pirates! Yes, from pirates..but not from themselves...yeah it's in the very fine print, maybe.
posted by elpapacito at 7:12 AM on November 23, 2008


Why is a person on techdirt who doesn't know what fair use is writing about lawsuits?
posted by dabitch at 7:18 AM on November 23, 2008


Yes, but who will protect the public from "Maneater"?
posted by plexi at 7:20 AM on November 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


plexi: I nominate Tom Waits.
posted by nosila at 7:32 AM on November 23, 2008


Hall & Oates couldn't go for that. No can do.

And oh jeez ... Techdirt ... yeah, nothing like trying to convince everyone to abandon all current business models (even if they are a little flaky now) for creative endeavors in favor of an as-yet-unknown business model where intellectual property is decoupled from the income, and we're pretty sure people will maybe pay for it. Sometimes. Maybe I'll make money with T-shirts about my freeware. Uh, true scarcity! Micropayments! Infinitely abundant goods! Access to the artist! Hostage model!

He should stick to privacy invasions and red light cameras, because I'm pretty sure this very last viable patch of land in the techno-communist Utopia he's squatting on is being bulldozed for a Starbucks.
posted by adipocere at 7:33 AM on November 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


FWIW, the Techdirt link was strictly for the news of the lawsuit; not for the interprettations or the ramifications thereof - that's what the third and final links are for.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:38 AM on November 23, 2008




Live by the sword; die by the sword.
posted by Slothrup at 7:45 AM on November 23, 2008


I always hear that Nelly Furtado song as "She's a maneater makes your cock hard, makes your cock hard, but you can never ever get her at all"
posted by autodidact at 7:54 AM on November 23, 2008


Wow, as I was about to say that the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge version of Maneater is a lot better than the studio version ... and what do I see in the YouTube sidebar? Hall & Oates Rich Girl! ... compare with The Virgins Rich Girl! Clearly, there is something going on, I think we've stumbled upon a scenester conspiracy. Wait what's that my? My lights just went out. Hello? Is there anybody there? Whose there? I hear someone wearing sloppy cowboy boots? Oh my god, no please, not like this, not with my own iPhone charger .sdfdsfwe.dds.....
posted by geoff. at 7:57 AM on November 23, 2008


What a bunch of petards.
posted by srboisvert at 8:01 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Secret 'Stache.
posted by fixedgear at 8:04 AM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I still wonder when Sony (the music label) is going to sue Sony (the manufacturer of CD burners and CD-R disks) for aiding piracy.
posted by PenDevil at 8:05 AM on November 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


I had to go listen to a few Hall and Oates tracks just now. I'll never cease to be amazed at the evocative power of music -- even music that you never cared for can have the ability to move you back to a particular point in time.
posted by Slothrup at 8:06 AM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Seems fairly simple to me. Hall & Oates have a case, provided that the jury finds that the Furtado track infringes on the H&O song (which I think is a stretch, quite frankly) and provided that H&O themselves hold the copyright to "Maneater," instead of Warner/Chappel owning it. Copyright law doesn't give a shit who works for who, and so Timbaland and Nate Hills being under contract with Warner/Chappel shouldn't come into play at all. It's interesting, but meaningless from a copyright perspective.

The more important question here is, who watched the original cut of the Nelly Furtado video and said, "wait, wait, wait. I don't follow this at all. You need to stick a minute and a half of explanation at the top to show how she ended up in the club singing her new single. Otherwise I don't get it. Maybe her dog ran in there or something."
posted by Navelgazer at 8:06 AM on November 23, 2008


The music industry has a bad reputation
What they need is copyright education
Going to court is a bad situation
What you want is copyright education
Oh yeah
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:13 AM on November 23, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'd rather see Timberland sue this Timbaland person.
posted by Zambrano at 8:51 AM on November 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Copyright law doesn't give a shit who works for who, and so Timbaland and Nate Hills being under contract with Warner/Chappel shouldn't come into play at all. It's interesting, but meaningless from a copyright perspective.

The quandry being posed here, as I understand it, isn't suing Furtado for infringement, but suing the publishers for failing to enforce the copyright - something you don't normally hear a lot about, really, but may become more common if artists working for the same publisher sample each other more frequently.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:52 AM on November 23, 2008


Otherwise I don't get it. Maybe her dog ran in there or something.

I thought I was watching a terrible movie I saw recently. The Brave One? Think every other Jodie Foster movie you ever saw, meets Death Wish.

It was like the bit near the end where Jodie Foster and her dog go into the thugs hide-out before the big shoot-out? Only instead of a shoot out, in this version, da thugs get served.

For a Neil Jordan film it was piss poor.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:59 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Everyone's making fun of Hall and Oates but nobody's making fun of Nelly Furtado. C'mon, she was the WORST! Remember that "I'm like a bird" song? That was the dumbest song ever.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:59 AM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


actually, this is a clever legal ploy - it's an iffy case to sue timbaland & furtado for infringement because i don't think the song's similar enough - what they're really trying to do is get out of a bad contract with their publisher so they can set up their own publishing and make lots of bucks - the point being is that they're suing to end the contract, not just to get damages for the one song

ALL their songs published by warner/chappell will be affected by this
posted by pyramid termite at 9:17 AM on November 23, 2008


It'll be interesting to see how two songs which don't particularly sound anything alike could be deemed sufficiently similar that it's infringing on the earlier song's copyright to simply include an identical phrase.
posted by Dreama at 9:19 AM on November 23, 2008


>It'll be interesting to see how two songs which don't particularly sound anything alike could be deemed sufficiently similar that it's infringing on the earlier song's copyright to simply include an identical phrase.

In Acuff-Rose, a case in which 2 Live Crew took only the first line of "Oh, Pretty Woman" as well as making a loop out of the opening guitar riff, the court said that they had taken "the heart" of the song. While this is more than just an identical phrase, the court will look at the amount and substantiality of the taking. This means that even if you take a little piece of another song, it can still be enough of a taking to be an infringement if it is sufficiently evocative (my own words, not the court's) of that song.

Fair use has 4 factors to consider, but it's ultimately not a formula that judges simply apply. they use their own judgment, so a specific judge may find a very small taking to be enough.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 9:50 AM on November 23, 2008


Here's 2 Live Crew's version, by the way.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 9:54 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the one time in my life that I hope I get jury duty.
posted by dr_dank at 10:08 AM on November 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 -

The claimed original track, entitled "Acidjazzed Evening", is a chiptune-style 4-channel Amiga module composed by Finnish demoscener Janne Suni (a.k.a. Tempest).

Nerdrage! Don't mess with chiptunes you lazy-ass rap fuckers!
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


So much for my hot gay Latin single "Juan on Juan"
posted by porn in the woods at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


The video for Nelly Furatardo's Man Eater was uploaded to YouTube on March 1st, 2007. Did Hall & Oates hear this Nelly Furtardo song for the first time last week?
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 10:45 AM on November 23, 2008


The video for Nelly Furatardo's Man Eater was uploaded to YouTube on March 1st, 2007. Did Hall & Oates hear this Nelly Furtardo song for the first time last week?

Judging from the mustache, I'd say that Daryl Hall's not exactly on the cutting edge of much.

You're out of touch
I'm out of time

posted by scabrous at 10:56 AM on November 23, 2008


Oh. So they're still alive then?
posted by Samizdata at 10:58 AM on November 23, 2008


you can rely on the Warner's money, you can rely on the Warner's money...
posted by jonmc at 11:29 AM on November 23, 2008


BTW -- Primary Wave Music Publishing "owns a majority stake in most of the biggest hits in the Hall & Oates catalog." I suspect that Primary Wave has a vested interest in this lawsuit. Also, I suspect that this lawsuit indeed has something to do with wanting to get out of a Warner/Chappell contract.

As has been reported, Hall & Oates "are totally cool with you sampling them." All they ask for is that you ask permission to do so. They are honored that so many R&B and hip-hop artists have sampled their tunes. They also enjoy collaborating with a range of current musicians, including Travis McCoy (Gym Class Heroes), KT Tunstall, Chuck Prophet, Mutlu, Nick Lowe, Monte Montgomery, Chromeo, and Finger Eleven among others.

Regarding Nelly Furtado:
"John: We’ve been sampled frequently over the years and I consider it a tribute.

Geoff: Did you get any credit for Nelly Furtado's song that references 'Maneater?' I always thought that lyric was pretty unique, so it raised my eyebrow a bit. Any comment?

John: I just read a musicologist’s analysis of the two songs and the similarity between our version and the Furtado song is really much too close to be a coincidence. Uncanny, let's just leave it at that."
There's also likely some P.R. at work here, as Hall & Oates are releasing a Blu-ray DVD (Live At The Troubadour) and John has just released a solo album (1000 Miles of Life). They are also "prepping a 2009 tour to support their latest release 'Daryl Hall & John Oates, Live from the Troubadour.'"
posted by ericb at 11:36 AM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


What happens when publishers don't protect songwriters from other songwriters working for the same publisher.

Apparently, the publishers get sued.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:14 PM on November 23, 2008


Best H&O rap samplin' ever

(Damn, I wanted to find the original video, with Daryl Hall singing it in the studio. "Oh won't the homies smile for mee..eeeEEEeee...")
posted by First Post at 12:25 PM on November 23, 2008


Judging from the mustache, I'd say that Daryl Hall's not exactly on the cutting edge of much.

Oates is the one with the mustache.
posted by jonmc at 12:47 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I only see that Furtado's the only relevant talent here -- when did "Maneater" come out? I suspect it's about 30 years old about now. H&O can only be flattered by the reflected light of sudden attention that this lawsuit bringing them.

Nelly and Timbaland are talented performers -- perhaps H&O ought to try farming a few more old songs out to them...

Note:"Maneater" came out in 1982, and was featured on their lp H20, which makes the song 26 years old.)
posted by vhsiv at 12:58 PM on November 23, 2008


I think pyramid termite and ericb have it right on the money. This complaint doesn't hold water, and I think someone's just trying to get out of a publishing agreement.

Warner Chappell can't rightly sue themselves here, which is what they would be doing if they charged that one of their copyrights infringed another of their copyrights. I'm sure that if Hall & Oates made a complaint to W/C about this, they were told this very thing.

Even if W/C were just administering the two copyrights, they wouldn't get in the middle of this - it's like a parent choosing sides between two children. Well, not really, but... anyway, something like that would always have to be pursued by someone other than W/C.
posted by queensissy at 1:03 PM on November 23, 2008


Music died when the industry began. It ought not to be a commodity.
posted by ageispolis at 2:31 PM on November 23, 2008


As far as I can tell the only thing the two songs have in common is the single word "maneater". They don't sound anything a like and the lyrics are completely different. Do people really think H&O would have a case? This isn't like taking the intro riff from Pretty Woman I wouldn't have thought.
posted by markr at 3:40 PM on November 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


scabrous: Judging from the mustache, I'd say that Daryl Hall's not exactly on the cutting edge of much.

Actually, for the last year Daryl Hall has been hosting a monthly web-based show with some pretty "cutting edge" guests. He's also been involved with SXSW.
posted by Monk at 4:10 PM on November 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Everyone's making fun of Hall and Oates but nobody's making fun of Nelly Furtado. C'mon, she was the WORST! Remember that "I'm like a bird" song? That was the dumbest song ever.

Actually, I liked that album. It wasn't brilliant, but it showed signs of a possible artist inside, or at least a pop star that had some depth and independence. But since then she turned into just another pop star.

Aside from that, I don't see the similarity at all between the two songs, besides the title.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:15 PM on November 23, 2008


Actually, for the last year Daryl Hall has been hosting a monthly web-based show with some pretty "cutting edge" guests. He's also been involved with SXSW.

To be fair, he never stopped working when Hall and Oates broke up. I'm not really into his particular thing so much, but he does have a talent for that white boy R&B type thing he's got going on, and he seems to keep at it just because he is born to do it.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:17 PM on November 23, 2008


Oates is the one with the mustache.

WAS the one with the 'stache, but he's been clean shaven for 20 years. It's OK, you couldn't have known. Read the link I posted above if you're interested.
posted by fixedgear at 6:09 PM on November 23, 2008


^^ ... he's been clean shaven for 20 years... ^^

Did that come with a 12-step program?
posted by vhsiv at 1:51 AM on November 24, 2008


And a visit from Jimmy Swaggart?
posted by vhsiv at 1:52 AM on November 24, 2008


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