Wendy Carlos Claims Trump Parody Video Infringes On Her Music


MANHATTAN (CN) – Groundbreaking synthesizer musician Wendy Carlos claims in court that an Australian filmmaker infringed on her copyright to music from the film “A Clockwork Orange” by using it in a Trump parody video posted on YouTube.

In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Manhattan, Carlos, perhaps best known for her 1968 album “Switched-On Bach,” says Australian lawyer and satirist Hugh Atkin used her arrangement and performance of the “William Tell Overture” in his video “A Clockwork Trump vs. A Trumpwork Orange.”

Carlos’ performance was included in the Stanley Kubrick film “A Clockwork Orange,” and the 76-second video is described in the complaint as a side-by-side comparison of Kubrick’s dystopian main character with Atkin’s parody of Trump.

Atkin’s video matches the frantic tempo, text font, fast-cuts and strobing aesthetic of the original trailer, while Carlos’ recording of the “William Tell Overture” from the movie syncs to both videos.

According to the complaint, Atkin’s unauthorized use of the Wendy Carlos performance would require two individual copyright licenses: a synchronization license for the music arrangement, and a master use license for the sound recording of “The William Tell Overture.”

The fees for both licenses would total $60,000, the lawsuit says.

Carlos, who is suing through Serendip LLC, the company she set up as the owner of her copyrights and master recordings says Atkin’s “gratuitous and unlicensed use of Serendip’s copyrighted music and sound recording works would have a deleterious effect on the potential future market and value of these works.”

According to their complaint, Serendip LLC receives more license requests for music from “A Clockwork Orange” soundtrack than any other music by Wendy Carlos, which includes soundtracks to “The Shining” and “Tron,” as well as the platinum-selling “Switched-On Bach.”

Serendip filed a takedown claim under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and “A Clockwork Trump vs. A Trumpwork Orange” was removed from YouTube on October 24, 2016.

Atkin has since filed a counter-notification alleging that his video was removed due to a mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed.

As a result of Atkin’s counter-notification, Serendip was notified that it must file a federal court action within 10 business days or YouTube would reinstate the video.

According to YouTube’s copyright basics page, three copyright strikes results in the termination of YouTube account and removal of all uploaded videos.

In the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory, Atkin tweeted that his parody video “seems much less funny now.”

Wendy Carlos’ official website maintains a page devoted to piracy warnings regarding unauthorized bootleg CDs and LPs.

According to the complaint, Serendip LLC monitors eBay.com for unauthorized  physical copies of the copyrighted music and YouTube.com for unauthorized use of Wendy Carlos’ copyrighted music.

Carlos, who came out as transgender in 1979, is now referred to as the “trans godmother of electronic music”, establishing her as iconic figure in a community who reportedly fear a possible reversal of civil rights under the Trump presidency,

Hugh Atkins did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Courthouse News.

Serendip is represented by Annemarie Franklin of New York City.

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