WaTunes: Exclusive: Rebecca Black Fighting Ark Music Factory Over ‘Friday’
It didn't take long for everyone involved in the Rebecca Black story to start squabbling. Black – whose song "Friday" hit Number 38 on Billboard's digital singles chart this week – and her mother, Georgina Marquez Kelly, are accusing Ark Music Factory, which produced "Friday," of copyright infringement and unlawful exploitation of publicity rights.
A March 29 letter from Black and Marquez Kelly's lawyer Brian Schall to Ark Music Factory obtained by Rolling Stone alleges that Ark has failed to provide Black with the master recordings of her song and video; has been exploiting her likeness and her song on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and Ark's website; created an unauthorized "Friday" ringtone; and has been advertising Black as an exclusive Ark recording artist on its website.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ark Music Factory founder Patrice Wilson denied most of the allegations in the letter. "I have met with Rebecca Black's mom and everything is fine," he said. "She will get the masters and the song. They can have it all."
Marquez Kelly paid Ark $4,000 (not $2,000, as has been widely reported) to produce the song, and according to Schall's letter, the agreement that she signed with Ark in November stipulates that Black has 100 percent ownership and control of "Friday," including the master recording and the music video.
Black shot the video for "Friday" in January, and the Ark team finished it a few weeks later. It was uploaded to YouTube on February 10th, but it only had around 4,000 views until it was posted on comedian Daniel Tosh's Tosh.O Comedy Central blog on March 11th, and comedian Michael J. Nelson tweeted about it. Overnight, it had gotten over 200,000 views, and by March 15th, it had over five million views on YouTube. And after her Good Morning America appearance on March 18th, she had evolved from a meme to a celebrity.
"She's not our exclusive artist," said Wilson. "Once an artist meets with us and once they blow up, they have a choice to retain us or move on if they can. Rebecca is now signed with someone else." Wilson added that he will remove Black from the Ark Music Factory website.
But Ark's lawyer, Barry Rothman, cast doubt on the validity of the November agreement. "The agreement was not court-approved," Rothman said. "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."
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