People were understandably upset that film director Todd Phillips chose Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” in his movie “Joker,” considering that Glitter is serving a 16-year sentence for child sex abuse.
But those who currently own the rights to the song insist that Glitter will not profit from the song’s inclusion in the film.
In January of 1997, just before Glitter’s legal problems started, Snapper Music — which is a record label in England — purchased the rights to all of Glitter’s master recordings. A spokesperson for Snapper says that not only do they not pay Glitter for the use of “Rock and Roll Part 2,” which has appeared in many films, but that they have had “no contact with him.”
Snapper also notes that it does not sell physical Gary Glitter records. His songs are only available through streaming services and downloads.
In the United States, songwriting rights to “Rock and Roll Part 2” belong to Universal Music Publishing Group, which represents Glitter, and to BMG, which represents the estate of the late Mike Leander, who co-wrote “Rock and Roll Part 2.” According to Universal, they own all of Glitter’s publishing interests relating to the copyrights of his songs. Therefore, they do not pay him for the use of his songs.
What the statements leave out, however, is the enormous sums likely paid to secure ownership of Glitter’s recording and publishing rights. Those payouts were made with the intent to exploit lucrative songs like “Rock and Roll Part 2,” meaning that Glitter has already profited handsomely — just not directly from Joker and other current and future placements.
And make no mistake: both companies earn lots of money from “Rock and Roll Part 2.”
According to Billboard, as of 2014, the song was earning a quarter of a million dollars every year in royalties. It is believed that the producers of Joker paid somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 for the rights to the song, which was roughly split between Universal and Snapper.
In 1997, authorities in England arrested Glitter on child pornography charges, and he was eventually convicted. Later, he spent time in a Vietnam prison for sexual-related crimes. Finally, in 2015, a London court sentenced him to prison, where he is expected to remain for another 12 years.