General Larry Platt could never have imagined that when he auditioned for American Idol in Atlanta to sing a funny song of his own writing that he would create a phenomenon. Platt is the next in the long line of viral videos and entertainers to emerge from American Idol auditions...William Hung, anyone? The video of his performance, shown here, has already received several million views on youtube, spawned several re-mixes and found it's way into politics and the pop mainstream.
I'll admit that I laughed the first time that I heard the song. Today, it takes a step further into the world of entertainment law and that is where I become really interested. The song is being played everywhere and other artists are re-mixing it to their taste, yet General Platt has not received any money.
The song is not registered with the Copyright office. In fact, since the performance several people have attempted to copyright the song, but General Platt was not one of them. General Platt is keen to make sure that if anyone profits off of his song that it is him. He has hired an attorney to help protect his legal rights. General Platt will have to show that the work was an original and that he was the first to enter it into commerce. Luckily, given the popularity of American Idol, 50 million people can attest to the fact that General Platt was the first to introduce the song to the world.
The biggest challenge facing Platt will be to prove that the song was original. A pair of brothers from Detroit have already come forward stating that in 1996 they wrote a strikingly similar song called "Back pockets on the floor". The similarities between the two songs are obvious particularly concerning the lyrics, although, in my opinion, General Platt is the superior rapper. Unfortunately, for General Platt any royalties he might be able to secure might be lost to a copyright infringement suit from these two brothers.
General Platt has been asked to record a version of the song. Hopefully, he can receive royalties from this recording and make some money off of his effort before the song becomes a pop culture afterthought.
If anyone is considering singing original material on future seasons of American Idol, be absolutely sure to copyright the material first.
Finally, you have to give it to Simon - love him or hate he really can spot a hit maker. After the audition he says I have a terrible feeling that song is going to be a hit!