The two-minute usage of the 1972 song Rock and Roll Part 2 by convicted pedophile Gary Glitter in the movie Joker could end up profiting the artist. The song is worth hundreds of pounds and will benefit the sexual criminal.
Two sets of intellectual rights are affected by the use of the two-minute clip, including for the sound recording and one for the publishing of the composition. The local company which set the piece in the movie will be able to retain 20-30% of the profits according to a music lawyer and synchronization expert. He said that the remainder will be divided into 60% and 40%, with the larger chunk given to the record company in the UK. Glitter will likely end up with no more than 30% of the earnings for the recorded matter and lesser for the publishing.
The financials are quite complex, but the moral conundrum is of real value.
The job of the music supervisor is to conduct the diligence on the case according to Cliff Fluet, who is a partner at the law firm Lewis Silkin. In America, according to him, no mind would be paid to Gary Glitter on the moral front. The song there is a popular sports cheer used to get the attention of the spectators. The association with Glitter was made redundant a while ago.
Record companies and publishers have chosen to use this song in a blunt business decision. However, does a man convicted of a crime deserve to keep making money on their intellectual property? The copyright does not end just because someone serves federal time. Another convicted murderer, Phil Spector, still makes money from the song River Deep – Mountain High, and Be My Baby, and Glitter also makes money from Hello by Oasis because of referencing to Hello! Hello! I’m Back Again.
The Joker team is not hearing the first or last of this. Someone in the licensing chain should have raised a concern for the morally questionable outcome of using this song. Ultimately, expecting the industry to give up their money and instead choose the moral high ground is not realistic.