You Have To Mean It If You Set It To Music

Unauthorized Enjoyment of Song Irks Law Firm

It sounds like the setup for a joke: a law firm picks a fight with a legal blogger over the leak of an internal song celebrating — well, itself.

First, the song: after the law firm Nixon Peabody was named to Fortune magazine’s 2007 list of the best companies to work for, the firm, which has 700 lawyers, commissioned a celebratory anthem with an infectious 1980s-style beat and a sing-along chorus, “Everyone’s a Winner at Nixon Peabody.”

The lyrics, sung in a kind of Earth, Wind & Fire style, include: “Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s all about the team, it’s all about respect, it all revolves around integrity.”

But what began as an innocent instance of corporate self-congratulation has turned into a minor Internet sensation and earned the firm a bit of a black eye, with bloggers poking fun at the song and criticizing Nixon Peabody’s response to its leak.

[…] Mr. Gerhard asked Mr. Lat to take down the song, but he refused, saying his playing of it fell under the fair-use provisions of the law. Though Mr. Gerhard said the firm did not “intend to let this thing lie,” Mr. Lat says he did not receive a cease-and-desist letter. By Friday, YouTube had removed the song, noting that it had received a copyright violation notice.

[…] But if Nixon Peabody had hoped to squelch the song’s spreading, it had acted too late. Scores of other blogs have since commented on the song and the firm’s response. Another YouTube user has created a second video, using only a minute-long snippet of the song and saying that his use was firmly protected by laws governing parody.

Like the video’s tagline says, “Fair use is a bitch.”