Strong opinions, weakly held

The most implausible aspect of Glee

Turns out the most implausible aspect of Glee is that they could perform all of the popular songs they do without paying for the rights to do so:

The fictional high school chorus at the center of Fox’s Glee has a huge problem β€” nearly a million dollars in potential legal liability. For a show that regularly tackles thorny issues like teen pregnancy and alcohol abuse, it’s surprising that a million dollars worth of lawbreaking would go unmentioned. But it does, and week after week, those zany Glee kids rack up the potential to pay higher and higher fines.

Balkinization guest blogger Christina Mulligan walks readers through the absurdity of modern copyright statutes using examples from Glee.


  1. What’s especially strange about it is that the people who make the show are probably experts on the subject, since Fox has to get clearance on every song it puts in the show.

  2. Actually, most production companies probably have prearranged agreements with RIAA or ASCAP and they likely have a staff member that simply reports what’s used when. The writers probably don’t even think about it.

  3. ‘Actually’ or ‘probably’? πŸ˜‰

    I base my comment on commentary from ‘The Simpsons’, where the show runners talk constantly about song clearance, negotiations on cost, and the ongoing headaches of getting clearance.

  4. Of course I could be wrong πŸ™‚ – I assumed that a show like Glee, which has music as an intrinsic part of the normal story lines, would have a lot of that worked out ahead of time. (I wouldn’t put Simpsons in quite the same category for musical usage.) Similar to how radio stations have agreements with BMI or ASCAP.

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