TV Girl Free Download Removed From Internet - But I've Got a Copy!

Warner Brothers exerts legal pressure on websites...

By , Columnist
San Diego City Beat gets the scoop on this one, but I've been following TV Girl since last year when the same publication brought them to my attention.

TV Girl is a San Diego electro-pop duo who found sudden Internet fame last year with a track called "If You Want It" that heavily sampled Todd Rundgren's 1972 hit, "Hello It's Me." The track, which borrows Rundgren's hook, lead line, vocals, and even sax solo from the original interlude, gets a re-working with completely new vocal narrative that's more than catchy - as if to expand on the original's pop sensibilities with a new summer-lounge feel.

But that short-lived and ultimately unprofitable success has come to an end as Warner Brothers has issued a warning to Bandcamp, Pitchfork, YouTube and other sites to remove the copyrighted material (they all have). TV Girl members Trung Ngo and Brad Petering were quick to state on their website, "Just to clarify, TV Girl had nothing to do with the takedown notice - We have no affiliation with Warner Music Group or any other songwriting association or record label."

And so the group remains unsigned despite glowing reviews of the track from Pitchfork, The Atlantic, and The Guardian in the UK and has received no profit from the Internet release of the single. The copyright claim by Warner is on behalf of Todd Rundgren yet there has been no word from the Rundgren camp on the matter. 

For TV Girl's part they had made an attempt to secure rights to the song but found the publishing company's terms unsatisfactory. "To give you an idea, one company demanded 100% of all proceeds from any money made, in addition to us paying a $5,000 clearance fee. Basically they were saying: 'Fuck you, we have all the power, either pay us or take the song down.' Because we weren't making any money off the song anyways, and because it had already spread around the net thanks to blogs, we declined their offer", they posted on their site.

Which all gives rise to the fracas over what's legal and what's not on the Internet in terms of music and what actually benefits an original artist with the redistribution of his ideas. Rundgren hasn't exactly had a hit song in awhile but his royalty cheques from a handful of hits and numerous production credits have to be a sizable chunk of his non-retirement salary these days. He still performs and records vigorously at 63 but he has also enjoyed a rise in sub-cultural popularity with electro bands like Hot Chip, Daft Punk, and Neon Indian all name-checking him and sampling his wares. It's a double-edged sword for sure.

And as to how I came into possession of my cherished copy? I would guess that very few people have Google alerts search terms for both "Todd Rundgren" and "Vietnam" but I do - and so the San Diego City Beat had sent me to the band's website and I downloaded it for free as instructed last year. And so with the publication of this story, I suspect good PR again for both TV Girl and Rundgren - not so good for Warner. If anyone needs a copy, email me.

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David has spent most of his career in advertising. That alone should call his writing skills into question. David currently writes the Wild Wild East Dailies from Saigon but has trouble seeing the forest for the trees because it's a jungle out there.

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