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Rebecca Black's 'Friday': Who Owns the Rights?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 17, 2011 12:11 PM

"It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday..." So goes the lyrics of Rebecca Black's "Friday." Once just an ordinary 13-year-old, Black is now a household name for this fairly ridiculous song.

But now "Friday" has just been taken off YouTube as part of a legal battle.

Okay, scratch that - the original music video may have been taken off, but Ark Music Factory, the company that produced Black's song, has put on a "director's cut" version of the video back online, reports the Huffington Post.

So, all you "Friday" lovers, rejoice. You can still listen to the wonderfully catchy song, complete with incredibly cringe-worthy lyrics. Though, why was the video pulled in the first place? And who owns the rights to the video, young Ms. Rebecca Black or Ark Music Factory?

The video was pulled off YouTube by Black's lawyers, allegedly after Ark Music Factory decided to make the video a $2.99 "rental" off YouTube - a decision that Black was not a part of.

The rights over the song should have been determined via the recording contract that Black signed with Ark music. The problem is that it seems from all angles, Ark Music seems more like a recording studio than a record label. Black's mother paid the company $4,000 to record the song and to make the music video.

In all likelihood, the agreements over the master recordings and who is able to do publicity and capitalize on the video is probably something that Ark Music did not seriously consider until the video went viral, exploding with more than 160 million views, according to USA Today.

Black's lawyers have previously accused the company of copyright infringement and unlawful exploitation of her publicity rights, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Rebecca Black does seem to have an edge on the copyright issue, as Ark Music's founder Patrice Wilson has said in interviews that Black would get the master recording to the song. In the same interview, Wilson also said that Black was not their "exclusive artist."

So, what of the publicity rights surrounding Rebecca Black's "Friday"? It seems unclear, given that there likely wasn't a hard agreement about the publicity rights when nobody knew the song was going to be such a huge hit. While "Friday" being taken off YouTube seems to have only been temporary, the legal battle still rages on.

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