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April 21, 2011
The Gaga Saga
A friend pointed me to an interesting blog entry from Weird Al Yankovic
on his difficulties getting permission for a parody of a new Lady Gaga song
. The blog entry describes his attempts to get permission from Gaga for a parody song Al intended to be the lead piece on his new album.
As Al notes in the blog entry, his parody tunes fall under one of the traditional fair use exemptions and as such do not technically require anyone's permission. However, as a matter of his "personal policy" he seeks permission beforehand. In the old days, a tune that didn't appear on an album would be buried somewhere. These days, though, Al could still release his version, "Perform this Way", on YouTube, which is what he did, as well as releasing a free MP3 download of it.
But wait, there's more. News travels by strange means and the upset on the 'nets about Gaga's refusal reached her ears. Where, it seems, it was news to her
as well. According to Al's blog update on the situation
, Gaga's manager has admitted that he never even sent Al's original request to her. Gaga hadn't refused permission; she wasn't even aware she had been asked.
This is an old lesson, but one that bears repeating. When you hear that $BIGNAME has said or done such-and-such, treat it with a grain of salt. Performers and creative types accrete layers of people around them as they get more famous and as often as not something that's attributed to a Big Name is actually just something a publicist or manager thought would be a good idea. One of the neat things about living in this future is that our new technologies sometimes allow those walls to be pierced, with interesting results.
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