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GSA “Billionaire” parody creator files copyright, lawmaker wants it back

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On April 2, 2012 a General Services Administration Inspector General report detailed wasteful practices at an $823,000, 2010 regional conference in Las Vegas, leading to the ouster of GSA’s top leadership and reforming government conference spending.

A music-video parody of Travie McCoy’s music video for ‘Billionaire‘ featuring Bruno Mars by then GSA employee Hank Terlaje titled “The Commissioner Project” and shown at the conference quickly became one of the most famous – or infamous – parts of the ongoing scandal.

It’s also quite catchy. (Full disclosure: Terlaje says in the song that every time he closes his eyes he sees his name on Federal Times.)

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But recently Terlaje received a copyright for the work and one key lawmaker is saying it is ineligible.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini Feb. 4 and said the video was created using government resources – including employees and facilities – for a government event and is there ineligible for a copyright.

“As the video appears to have been filmed at federal government facilities, with GSA personnel, and for the express purpose of use at an official event, the committee is concerned that securing a private copyright on such work is inappropriate. Any such copyright would appear to rightfully belong to the federal government,” Issa said in the letter.

Issa is requesting all agency documents and communications regarding the production and creation of the work and any and all communications regarding Terlaje and the video.

The video shows Terlaje in a cubicle and other office spaces as well as on the beach and in parks.

I have reached out to Terlaje for comment and will update if I receive any response. Or if he reads it here he can always email me at amedici@federaltimes.com.

Comments

  1. Just Curious Says:
    February 5th, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Just curious – Why would Vitter send his inquiry to GSA, I didnt htink they had a role in issuing copyrights. Sounds more like a question to ask PTO

  2. Phil Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Questioning the GSA is appropriate since the issue here is NOT about the copyright, but rather the time and materials/facilities used in making the video. Only the GSA can answer that question.

  3. Week in IP: February 2 – 8, 2014 | Simon Linder's Intellectual Property Blog Says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    […] GSA “Billionaire” parody creator files copyright, lawmaker wants it back […]

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