It’s not the fact that he’s constantly a trending topic on Twitter or that half my followers have Bieber in their name (how do they find me?). Neither do I care that he beat Lady Gaga on YouTube. What bothers me is what I learned when I asked Google “who is justin bieber?” (I don’t capitalize my Google searches). This led me to Wikipedia and then to this:
In early 2007, when he was twelve, Bieber sang Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” for a local singing competition in Stratford and placed second. [Bieber’s mother,] Mallette posted a video of the performance on YouTube for their family and friends to see. She continued to upload videos of Bieber singing covers of various R&B songs, and Bieber’s popularity on the site grew. While searching for videos of a different singer, Scooter Braun, a former marketing executive of So So Def, clicked on one of Bieber’s videos by accident.12 Impressed, Braun tracked down the theater Bieber was performing in, located Bieber’s school, and finally contacted Mallette.
Presumably, the Stratford singing competition was held in a venue that was paying its licensing fees. But every YouTube video posted by Bieber’s mom was copyright infringement. Bieber should have been sued, instead he gets a record deal. This is a horrible mixed message in an era where parents are sued for posting videos of their kids at talent shows and videos of kids dancing to or singing popular songs are (at best) subject to DMCA takedowns.
Mixed messages like that are everywhere. Glee is particularly bad. Those kids are massive copyright infringers. Beyond all their performances of copyrighted material (including public performances) there is also the little issue of them posting a video of Sue singing “Let’s Get Physical” on YouTube. Instead of getting sued, Sue (heh) gets rewarded Bieber-style.
So that’s what bothers me about Bieber. He’s promoted as an example of how anybody, even you, can be discovered and become a star. But if you’re not star material, you’ll be sued.