Teens’ ‘Beat It’ Parody Sparks Feud With Michael Jackson’s Estate, Record Label

Nov 28, 2012 7:22am

Teens at a Pennsylvania library had hoped to inspire kids to read when they transformed the lyrics of Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit “Beat It” into “Read It” and posted it on the Internet.

Instead, they have a fight on their hands with Sony-ATV Records, which owns the rights to Jackson’s song with his estate and refused to grant them permission to post it on the Internet.

The teens at the Lansdowne Public Library say their David vs. Goliath tale began Nov. 19 when and Sony-ATV Records blocked the video from being viewed on YouTube three days after they originally posted it.

In protest, the teens and the library staff uploaded another video on YouTube titled, “Just UN Ban-It,” where students who worked on the film expressed their outrage at Sony.

“If [Michael Jackson] would have seen this ‘Read It’ video, he would have blessed it, and I’m just ashamed at Sony,” Lansdowne Public Library Director Sandra Giannella said in the video.

Sony told ABC News overnight that the record label agreed to let the video stay on the library’s website but not on YouTube.

“While it is not our common practice to do so, we made an exception for the Lansdowne students, waiving all fees, because it is a well-intentioned effort by the students to motivate kids to read,” the statement said.

Abbe Klebanoff, head of public services for the library, told The Mercury, ”You can’t put it on YouTube? What’s the point? If it’s online, it’s online.”

But Klebanoff  told the newspaper she was happy that the kids’ hard work can still be viewed by friends and family on the library’s website.

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