Singer Would Like to Be Paid for Having Her Music Stolen in ‘Catfish’
The filmmakers and distributors of “Catfish” have been sued by a company called Threshold Media because the documentary used the song “All Downhill From Here” by its client Amy Kuney during a pair of integral scenes in the film. At first, Kuney and her label Spin Move Records relished the fact that her song appeared in the movie. But later, as allegations over the documentary’s questionable authenticity arose, Spin Move dialed back on touting Kuney’s involvement, and are now asking that for a slice of the “Catfish” profits since they own the copyright on the music, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read any further: Usually, documentaries are safeguarded from having to license music under a fair use clause that allows filmmakers to use copyrighted material if cameras were rolling when the music played in real life. In “Catfish,” main character Nev Schulman is sent a recording he believes was made by a girl named Megan, who Schulman is romancing over Facebook and text messages despite never having met her. However, Schulman and his buddies find out, on camera, that the song Megan sent, “All Downhill From Here,” is actually just Amy Kuney’s exact track, and Megan changed the ID tags to take credit for it.
If “Catfish” is in fact a documentary, then it’s no harm, no foul. However, Threshold Media claims that the film is a work of fiction, or at least a heavily manipulated documentary, so producers should have asked for permission to license Kuney’s track — which they didn’t, since both the producers and filmmakers remain steadfast in their claim that “Catfish” is a documentary. We’ve seen “Catfish,” and to be honest, we find ourselves wrestling with the “real or fake” question for this film as much as we did for the Oscar-nominated “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” another documentary facing lawsuits following questions about whether it’s a documentary or a work of meta-fiction from street artist Banksy.