Rickrolling Controversy: Did Google Exploit Song Writer?

On a slow news day, one might find some interest in the fact that the author of “Never Gonna Give You Up” feels exploited by YouTube. Seems Pete Waterman earned just $16 from YouTube, despite more than 154 million views of the song.

Pete Waterman vs. Big Joe Smith
Pete Waterman vs. Big Joe Smith

In this corner, we have Waterman…

There was I sitting at Christmas thinking, ‘I must have made a few bob this year with the old Rickrolling‘,” he said.”I rang my publisher and they said ‘You’ll be all right’, until I saw the royalty statement. £11.Panorama did a documentary on the exploitation of foreign workers in Dubai,” he said. “I feel like one of those workers, because I earned less for a year’s work off Google or YouTube than they did off the Bahrain government.”

In the next corner, we have Big Joe Smith, who helped popularize the Rick Astley song and the celebrated practice of “Rick Rolling.” Smith, who was the 27th hire at YouTube and acted as community liaison, told Katie’s Opinion’s Craig Sumsky:

Well actually, the most memorable of all would really have to be the RickRoll on April 1, 2008.  I was behind that whole thing (laughing really hard).  We set it so no matter what video you clicked on the YouTube home page it took you to the YouTube RickRoll channel. In one day I RickRolled seven million people in nineteen countries… who else can say they did that?  We even cleared it with Rick Astley’s people. Good times man, that was alot of fun.  Check out the RickRoll channel on YouTube, www.youtube.com/user/YTRickRollsYou

Gentleman, let the debates begin. Should Waterman have his just desserts? Or is he being a baby because he didn’t make money when his song (as song by Rick Astley) became an international joke?

  • On one hand, an artists deserves his royalties.
  • On the other, I’m not sure anyone made much money on these views (which were largely not monetized with ads).

Need we remind you that all shots must be below the belt?

6 Replies to “Rickrolling Controversy: Did Google Exploit Song Writer?”

  1. Haha! Nalts, you crack me up! That old man fight video.

    I actually feel sorry for Rick Astley, he’s become a hasbeen joke. I don’t think they realised what they were getting into when they agreed. Maybe they did, who would have foreseen, who knows? I have fond memories of this song too, I was strollin the middle school playground back in the day with this tune.

  2. Well, he did become a kind of joke I guess, but I think in an affectionate way, and it definitely brought him back into public consciousness.
    He was singing at the Macy’s parade in NY I think, and his album sales definitely took an enormous boost because of this. He also took place in an 80s reunion arena tour with some other big bands of the era.
    It can’t be all bad for him, because he could very easily get all of his songs taken down from YouTube using their automatic content matching system I presume.

  3. Too bad. So sad. If he didn’t want to be exploited, he shouldn’t have gotten a Youtube account. Meanwhile, Revver has hired a gaggle of new video reviewers and they’re insane. I can’t get one video accepted there any more. Pffft. Like I need them anyway, eh?

  4. That guy deserves nothing more than he’s gotten just for the fact that he compared his situation to the exploited workers in Dubai. What a douchebag.

  5. Forget this guy. The Ivory Snow girl Marilyn Chambers passed away. Age 56. Sad, sad day. Can’t you come up with a tribute to the girl who starred in “Behind the Green Door”?

  6. First, the guy who complained is co-writer of the song. He’s not the singer.

    Second, you left this part out on the blog: “Waterman, whose fortune was estimated at £47 million by The Times in 2004…”

    Now, there’s the moral argument and the ‘I’m a greedy bastard’ argument.

    Top Five reason why I think Pete Waterman should sue Google for just compensation.

    1. Lawyers need more money.

    2. Sergey Brin and Larry Page at Google need something other than taking over the world to occupy their time.

    3. Every party has a pooper.

    4. Closet, skeletons, exposed.

    5. More to ransack after the revolution.

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