Copyright Fight Ensues Over Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’

May 2011

Music publishing, record labels

The internet viral hit of a 13 year old called Rebecca Black singing a song called “Friday” has sparked potential new litigation about who actually owns the sound recording – and the song. Black’s parents paid a company called Ark Music Factory (AMF) to produce a music video of a song that was written by Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson – who run AMF. Here’s the seeming legal conundrum – no one quite seems to know who owns what.  Jey and Wilson would have held the original rights to the composition as authors, while Black probably holds the copyright on the recording itself (though, there may be some questions about the musicians who played on the track). But its al dependent on the terms of the contract which was signed between the Blacks and AMF – and I am guessing behind that, the contracts that AMF itself has with Jey, Wilson and recording artists who put together the recording as well as the video director. A Rolling Stone Report says that “the agreement that Black signed with Ark in November stipulates that Black has 100 percent ownership and control of ‘Friday,’ including the master recording and the music video.” Seeming this probably includes a transfer of the copyright on the composition, but it might not, if the contract isn’t explicit on this point. The video has now had 122,398,120 hits on YoiTube at the time of writing

It doesn’t help that now Wilson (who seems to indicate that there’s no issue and he’s fine with handing over the copyrights to Black) and his partner Jey (who isn’t so quick to agree and maintains ARK ownership) have fallen out. Ark Music Factory’s lawyer, Barry Rothman seemingly stands with Jey saying “The agreement was not court-approved,”adding “They say they own the composition. Nothing could be further from the truth. If they go forward and license it or attempt to copyright it in their name, that would be copyright infringement and we’d act accordingly under the circumstances.”

No longer happy to be known as the ‘Friday’ girl, Rebecca is now planning an album. What a delight we all have in store.

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