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Julie Garber

"Read It" Ticks Off Sony and Executors of Michael Jackson's Estate

By December 4, 2012

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Thirty years have now passed since the release of Michael Jackson's album Thriller, which is currently the best selling album of all time. On that album is a nasty little song called "Beat It" which parody king "Weird Al" Yankovic morphed into the song "Eat It" in 1984. Recently members of the Lansdowne (Pennsylvania) Public Library Teen Advisory Board and other kids who enjoy using the library's teen lounge decided to produce a video to encourage other kids to start reading. They chose the song "Beat It" which naturally turned into "Read It." The video debuted on YouTube on November 16 as part of the library's dedication of the teen lounge to late library staff member Ronnie Hawkins, who advocated for youth programs. But three days later the video was taken down by Sony/ATV Music Publishing because the company said that the lyrics used in "Read It" were not a parody but instead "a message."

The video's editor, Abbe Klebanoff, who is the head of public services for Lansdowne Public Library, traveled to Sony's New York offices and also contacted one of the executors of Michael Jackson's estate, attorney John Branca, to convince them to allow the video to once again air on YouTube. Initially the company and estate agreed to allow the video to be aired on the library's website but not on any other site (such as YouTube or Facebook), and only until June 30, 2013. This disheartened the teens who had spent two months making the video as well as their adult advisors, including the Landsdowne Public Library director who had been asked by representatives of the William Penn School District, the Delaware County Library System and the Pennsylvania Library Association to be allowed to put "Read It" on their websites as part of the PA Forward initiative to promote the benefits of libraries. Fortunately on November 29 Sony and Michael Jackson's estate wised up and allowed the video to be once again posted on YouTube:

Just view it.

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