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Who owns ‘Pants on the Ground’?

My colleague Rosalind Bentley wrote this in today’s print edition:

“General” Larry Platt jumped from his chair, dashed off the porch of the tiny house in Reynoldstown and scooted into the driver’s seat of a car in the driveway.

Larry Platt performs his rap "Pants on the Ground" outside his home in Atlanta.

John Bazemore, AP Larry Platt performs his rap “Pants on the Ground” outside his home in Atlanta.

“I got it right here,” he said, fiddling with the car stereo.

In seconds, bass throbbed from the speakers and careened off the graffitied walls of the boarded-up house across the street.

“Pants on the ground! Pants on the ground! You looking like a fool with your pants on the ground!”

The tidy yard filled with pots of cabbage and tomato plants was Platt’s stage as he danced in the grass and sang along. “Gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways …”  Seated on the porch, his manager Earl Little, “friend” Sally Harley and a visitor looked on. The “general” did not stop singing until the last note of the song he made famous in January when he auditioned for “American Idol.”

But is it legally his song?

In that now-famous audition, Platt warbled his tune for the “Idol” judges about the questionable fashion statement of young men coast to coast. That two-minute a cappella performance inspired a slew of Internet parodies and led Platt to appearances in Las Vegas, at the Grammys and the Georgia Capitol.

That’s the upside of his 15 minutes. Now Platt finds himself in the middle of a legal squabble over rights to the hip-hop version of the song he recorded after his “Idol” turn — the version he danced to in the yard.

New York rapper Shawn Mims claims to have arranged the hip-hop version of “Pants,” making him a co-author. He also claims on his Facebook page to be a co-founder of American King Music, the company that recorded that tune in an Atlanta studio with Platt. Those things entitle Mims to distribution rights and a percentage of the revenue, according to a lawsuit Mims filed against Platt in March.

In a countersuit, Platt and his attorney, Phaedra Parks (who is doing her own reality TV turn as the latest addition to “The 
Real Housewives of Atlanta”), say Platt owns sole rights to “Pants.” Leron Rogers, a Norcross attorney for Mims and American King Music, said last week that the parties were in talks to settle the case out of court, perhaps as early as this week. In an e-mailed statement sent through her firm, Parks said the music company has offered a settlement and it is “being evaluated.”

An agreement could come just in time for tonight’s “Idol” season finale. And since Platt is expected to be a part of the show, sales of the tune could get a timely boost.

It’s a mess that might be laughable if not for the fact that the hip-hop version of “Pants” could make the unemployed, 63-year-old Platt a little money. Perhaps not a lot, but more than he appears to have now. Maybe more than this longtime gadfly has ever had.

Platt likes to say that he came up with the song because he was tired of seeing young men walking down the street in droopy pants. He’s a civil rights veteran who walked in the Selma to Montgomery “Bloody Sunday” march in 1965, who helped search for the missing and murdered children of Atlanta in the 1980s and most recently protested the rash of home foreclosures in Fulton County.

“They embarrass us, the civil rights leaders,” said Platt, the father of two grown daughters. “This is indecent exposure. I want to get these people to act like human beings.”

So now Platt finds himself not only trying to influence behavior, but to control his song. According to the plaintiff’s lawsuit, Mims had a verbal agreement to distribute the hip-hop version of the song. But after Platt changed management and no paperwork was signed, American King Music distributed the song anyway.

The song has been for sale through iTunes and other online outlets. Platt stood to make 35 percent of the profits, according to licensing documents. Money from sales are being held in a trust account controlled by Rogers’ law firm, according to the lawsuit.

At this point it’s not clear what money Platt will ever see from sales. But that hasn’t stopped him from singing his tune.

After his impromptu dance on the lawn last week, Platt sat back on the porch. Soon a young man in a white T-shirt and black shorts walked by, his underpants clearly visible from the back.

Platt began to sing: “Pants on the ground, pants on the ground …”

41 comments Add your comment

JTesla

May 26th, 2010
3:02 pm

What a mess, someone is always trying to rain on someone else’s parade in hopes of making money for themselves.

Mike $

May 26th, 2010
3:10 pm

I don’t think Mims has a chance in hell of getting Co-Author rights to the song, but if he arranged the version recorded by American King, then he has rights to any use of that version.

I would imagine the “settlement” will grant Platt full rights to the lyrics, and Mims will get rights/royalties to the recorded version that is currently in release. if anyone uses that “arrangement” he will get a share of it.

[...] is the original post:  Who owns ‘Pants on the Ground’? [...]

Rickster

May 26th, 2010
3:24 pm

To the public, that song will always remain Larry Platt’s – whether he owns the rights or not.

Alex Trebeck

May 26th, 2010
3:31 pm

Who owns Pants on the Ground? Well, looking out the back window I see a pair that I own that fell off the laundry line. Goin’ all green and stuff…..

kelly&carriefan

May 26th, 2010
3:38 pm

We interrupt this blog post, for the following Breaking News:

From Facebook: Catch Kelly performing on American Idol tonight with fellow AI Winner Fantasia. They will be singing “Together We Are One” as a farewell performance to Idol Judge Simon Cowell.

Yay, y’all. Yay! Though, I wish it were my dream of Kelly and Carrie, I will take it. :mrgreen:

Rickster

May 26th, 2010
3:41 pm

Man… I’m torn. Is Kelly enough of a reason to listen to overcome the presence of Fantasia? Or is Fantasia too much of a reason not to?

Guess that’s why the creator of us all invented the ‘mute’ button! :-)

Harriett

May 26th, 2010
3:58 pm

Got a meeting. Talk tonight!

kelly&carriefan

May 26th, 2010
4:02 pm

LOL, Rickster. I call it…”selective” muting. ;)

Lar

May 26th, 2010
4:04 pm

ditto Riskster’s comment

Neg

May 26th, 2010
4:11 pm

Rickster hit the nail on the head.

Rickster

May 26th, 2010
4:19 pm

whatever you wanna call it, K&CF, my thumb is going to get a workout tonight!

Rickster

May 26th, 2010
4:20 pm

JTesla

May 26th, 2010
4:23 pm

I’m with Rickster. It’s like a John Lennon and Yoko Ono pairing right there.

Deirdre

May 26th, 2010
4:26 pm

I’ll take Kelly no matter who she’s singing with! She’s going to outshine Fantasia so much that it will almost be funny.

kelly&carriefan

May 26th, 2010
4:29 pm

Rickster, thumb workouts should be a part of anyone’s life. Speaking of, Skinny or shapely, I’m down. Thanks.

Rickster

May 26th, 2010
4:55 pm

Looks like Ellen is trying to bolster her judging resume’ with some music industry credibility:

Ellen DeGeneres starts own record label

The Associated Press

1:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 26, 2010
NEW YORK — After a season judging singers on “American Idol,” Ellen DeGeneres (dih-JEN’-ur-us) is delving deeper into the music business with her own label.

The talk-show host was announcing on her show Wednesday that she is starting a label called eleveneleven. Her first act will be 12-year-old Greyson Chance, who recently became a sensation on YouTube with his piano version of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.”

There’s no word on when the label will start. It was formed with Telepictures Productions.

Besides DeGeneres, Greyson has some other strong people behind him: Madonna’s manager and Lady Gaga’s manager.

Sam

May 26th, 2010
4:55 pm

Oh man – talk about your Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde – adore Kelly, cannot tolerate Fantasia. Kelly doesn’t need to be paired with anyone – she’d outshine them all.

Say it ain’t so!

Rickster

May 26th, 2010
4:55 pm

I figured you wouldn’t mind a two-for-one special, K&CF.

Rickster

May 26th, 2010
4:56 pm

kelly&carriefan

May 26th, 2010
5:02 pm

Ha, Rickster, they needed to show how to pronounce Ellen’s last name. I mean, really? And yes, I’m always up for a good deal. Though, I’m not sure the world could handle two Big Bobs. ;)

Mike S

May 26th, 2010
5:38 pm

Unfortunately K&CF a lot of people think Ellen’s last name ends in a T instead of an S. lol.

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 26th, 2010
6:23 pm

Mike….no comment. ;-)

Highlander

May 26th, 2010
6:25 pm

Shawn Mims’ claim that he arranged a version of ‘Pants On The Ground’ doesn’t make him co-author of the song. Simply the arranger. (Harry Connick, Jr. doesn’t claim co-author rights to any of the tunes he arranged for Idol!)

And just because he recorded Mr. Platt doing the song in a studio doesn’t necessarily give him any distribution rights or revenues to the song. That all depends on whether there was a contractual agreement stating such.

As it stands right now “New York rapper” (has anyone ever heard of him before?) Shawn M. just sounds like another leeching scumbag. (Are we sure he’s not related to Fantasia somehow?) :wink:

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 26th, 2010
6:26 pm

if under 300k calls were made according to dialidol, that means what ever millions that ryan announces tonight would have been text-dominant, right? i still don’t see how they say lee wins, if all 3 of crystal’s numbers had more overall calls. i think those people are looney.

anyway, looking forward AND dreading tonight’s show, for SO many reasons!!!!

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 26th, 2010
6:27 pm

btw, ultrasound appears negative for gallstones, thank god, but now i have to worry, my pancreas are “inflamed” so now it’s CT scan and praying that it’s NOT something untreatable.

all prayers along those lines gratefully accepted!

Highlander

May 26th, 2010
6:39 pm

If I’m not mistaken (oh, shut up!), Simon was the only “judge” last night who didn’t tell Off-Key Lee, at some point or another, that he went off pitch or lost the key BUT THAT WAS OKAY!

Randy, Ellen and Kara all made that type of comment in their “critiques.” If that’s truly how they judge a SINGING competition, then I’ll finally agree with those who have called for a complete overhaul of the panel after Simon leaves!

I can’t recall any other AI season where a contestant was told (consistently) that he or she sang off key but that it didn’t matter!!

Of course, we had quite a few this season who made it to the final 24 even though they had forgotten the lyrics to their songs during Hollywood week!

Just look at it as the ‘dumbing-down’ of American Idol! :roll:

Highlander

May 26th, 2010
6:40 pm

Lady Linny, you know our positive thoughts and prayers are with you! :D

Traci

May 26th, 2010
7:04 pm

The winner in all this mess is Larry Platt ———–the loser is all of us – who get to see these “fools” walking around with their pants below their butt cheeks — most of them don’t even wear CLEAN underwear — which is a whole different conversation on a whole different level.

Deirdre

May 26th, 2010
7:07 pm

linny…lots of not terrible things could be going on. Keep a positive outlook! Prayers are on the way!

Didn’t Simon say something about “losing the melody” to Lee. Maybe that was a euphemism.

Deirdre

May 26th, 2010
7:10 pm

This from mj about Idols who will be taking part in the finale. Don’t know if that means they’ll just be sitting in the audience or if they’re actually doing something:

Constantine, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks, Chris Richardson, Kristy Lee Cook, Melinda Doolittle, David Archuleta, Elliott Yamin, Carly Smithson, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Michael Sarver, Scott MacIntyre, Matt Giraud AND more are in town for tonight’s big finale.

Mercedes S.

May 26th, 2010
7:17 pm

D – looked and looked but didn’t see Adam’s name in there…unless he is among the “and”s, like Big in the “SATC-2″ . Yes, Chris Noth’s part is that small.

Michael Sarver, though? Kristy Lee Cook? And WHO is Chris Richardson?

Is there are liveblog tonight, Rodney? Or should I finally watch my recording of “24″? And turn on “Idol” forthe last ten minutes?

JTesla

May 26th, 2010
7:19 pm

Ugg Deirdre, they really drudged the bottom to get that group. My feelings:

“Constantine, Taylor Hicks, Bo Bice, Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks, Chris Richardson, Kristy Lee Cook, Melinda Doolittle, David Archuleta, Elliott Yamin, Carly Smithson, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Michael Sarver, Scott MacIntyre, Matt Giraud”

No, yes, yes, no, yes, who, yes, no, no, yes, sure, no, again, AWESOME, no, no, no, and no.

The No’s have it.

JTesla

May 26th, 2010
7:20 pm

Mercedes, I actually remember him… he was Justin Timberlake like guy with far less talent.

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 26th, 2010
7:53 pm

was he the same year as kris or same year as daughtry, or was it the jordin year…. that’s how well i remember him, lol, tho’ i DID recognize the name

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 26th, 2010
7:55 pm

i would NOT have said “no” to Melinda, JT, or “yes” to KLC, lol, but otherwise you pretty much pegged it.

Resigned Nutmeg

May 26th, 2010
7:55 pm

Dial Idol’s predictions are based entirely on busy signals, not on their outgoing calls. Their outgoing calls only measure who is using their software to make the calls. Then the busy signals make the statistical prediction. In other words, maybe more people were using DialIdol to call for Crystal, but they got through more often than those calling for Lee.

linny ,,,=^..^=,,,

May 26th, 2010
7:57 pm

ok, i’m going to go sit in the other room and watch on the big TV, after waiting just a teensy while so i can utilize the ff button on the dvr…. i’ll be back maybe during commercials, but for sure after the show… hubby is cooking dinner (breakfast for dinner, just what my pancreas need, more cholesterol!) (which is one of the things that could be wrong) and it’s one of my faves…. so i’ll see you guys “whenever”

praying for a Crystal-ized Evening. and for me. but i have to say, when i think things are sooooo bad for my lil ol self, i hear almost immediately of someone else worse off, and thank the Good Lord Above for all the protection he’s given me for 62+ years. Amen.

ONDRIA

May 26th, 2010
10:15 pm

KELLY LOOKED A HOT MESS…..

aj

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4:42 pm

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