Who are You? Song rights and ownership (not an mp3 topic)

I’m not a big TV watcher (not that my idiot box proclivity is relevant to the query), but I was flipping through the channels last night and heard the Who classic ‘Who are You?’ as the lead in to some horrid little crime drama. This reminded me of a little anecdote told by Paul McCartney relating how he did not have ownership of the Lennon-McCartney catalog, and songs such as ‘Revolution’ had been sold by uni-gloved peculiarity Michael Jackson into commercial servitude.

So, to the questions: Who owns the Who catalog? As a fan of the band, I’m hoping they don’t condone this usage, but I’m prepared for the worst, so let’s hear the truth. Also, Paul McCartney is still the credited author of those songs, if he so wished is he still able to perform them, or has he lost all rights to them?

Major Who fan here:

Townshend owns just about everything, with minor exceptions. He has licensed his stuff through the roof the last few years to raise funds for various other projects. (Dell, Gateway, and Nissan have all recently used Who tunes.)

Townshend gets the lion’s share of the money also, what with being the sole songwriter for most of it. There are a few random tracks here and there owned by other people, but just about every “greatest hit” is Pete’s.

BTW, definitely check out Pete’s diaries at http://www.petetownhsend.com As well as being fascinating on many topics, he has addressed your leading question about whether it’s sacrilege and heresy to allow Who music to be used as advertising.

To answer your other question, Paul McCartney still gets royalties off of Northern songs, it’s just that Michael Jackson also gets a big share. Paul wanted to get both shares, and got outbid.

No one can stop any one from performing the songs – performing credits and royalties are slightly different than writing. When Paul performs them though, Michael Jackson makes a few bucks.

I like both the Who and Crime Scene Investigations (the TV drama you refer to). At least there’s some serious forensic science involved.

It is interesting that you are a purist concerning the use of the music (and why not!). I know there have been complaints about classical music appearing in ads / as title music as well.


thanks for the info. I couldn’t help being slightly silly about your opening sentence…

Scene: Army boffins are testing a new device. The head scientist asks a senior officer to provide an air current :slight_smile:

glee wrote:

I am sorry for the hijack, but

I hope you are joking about the serious forensic science. I watched one episode and from what I saw they really need better scientific advisors for their writers. In the episode I saw the investigators were surprised to find that some ice they gathered as evidence had disappeared and deduced that it was dry ice which sublimated and left no trace in the evidence bag. I was incredulous that they did not recognize it as dry ice when they collected it. I was floored whern they then stated that dry ice was used to transport organs for transplant procedures. If you enjoy the show then keep watching, but remember that what you are seeing is TV science.

No problem with the hijack. There is little science involved from my point of view. I suspect that they are capable of presenting accurate science, but fear that the average viewer wouldn’t be able to understand. Maybe if the general public were treated more intelligently, they would strive to be more intelligent. Alas, until then we will have to endure portrayals of reading the equivilent of the Gettyspburg Address from a single ‘cleaned up’ pixel of a digital image and PCR performed instantly in a machine resebling a toaster oven.

muttrox, Thanks for the very good information. I got to learn something new today.

glee, Yes, I suppose you can color me a purist. There is something distasteful in hearing a song that once elicited real emotion being used to shill sneakers. It happens, but I’m not required to like it.

No one mention my typos! Be polite and pretend you didn’t see them and I’ll promise to proofread next time.

My pleasure! You got any more questions about the Who, you know who to ask, eh?