Rebecca Black, the singer of viral hit Friday, may take legal action against the song’s producers at Ark Music Factory over claims they have infringed her copyright and exploited her publicity rights.
According to Rolling Stone, a solicitor representing the 13-year-old and her family said Ark Music Factory had refused to hand over master tapes of the music video for Friday, which has been dubbed “the worst song ever” by media.
Black’s attorney said the producers have been inaccurately advertising the singer as its exclusive artist and that it infringed on her copyright by creating an unauthorised ringtone of the song.
He stated that Ark Music Factory has been exploiting Black’s likeness and song on YouTube, Amazon, iTunes and its own site.
The attorney also said Black’s family paid Ark Music Factory US$4,000 to produce the song and that this agreement granted the teen and her family 100pc ownership of the song.
"Everything is fine" or everyone "getting greedy?"
In a Rolling Stone interview, the founder of Ark Music Factory, Patrice Wilson, denied these claims and said “everything is fine” between Ark and the family.
He also said Black will get the masters and the song and Black was not the company’s exclusive artist.
However, Wilson’s partner with the company, Clarence Jey, said Ark acted as a record label for Black and distributed and promoted her with her mother Georgina’s consent. He pointed out that now, “everyone is seeing big dollars” and is “getting greedy,” and claims that Black’s mother is trying to get the rights for something she doesn’t own.
"Now (the family) are turning it around and saying they were exploited, but clearly that is not the case when they were thanking me for forwarding them all the interviews with Rebecca and all the positive comments from YouTube," said Jey.
Jey said that while Black should get the master recording for the track, he argued Ark should own the copyright for the song and composition.
"I was calling Australia on my cellphone pretending to be Rebecca’s agent and setting up radio interviews for Rebecca while Georgina was right next to me. If she thought I was exploiting this, she could have said it."
Ark Music Factory’s lawyer, Barry Rothman, said the previous agreement was not “court-approved” and that Black’s family does not own the song.
“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," said Rothman.
"We’re not prepared to engage them in producing documents just because they want them, without a court order or litigation. We’d like to see Rebecca Black’s career go forward and we’re trying to accomplish that in the context of working through the legalities."
The fight to claim the rights to Friday is due to the overwhelming attention it has received. At the time of writing, it has drawn more than 84m hits on YouTube, albeit with a whopping 1.6m dislikes.
It’s currently No 62 in the iTunes chart.