‘Fiscal Funk’ wins competition, faces copyright concerns

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Fiscal Funk Music Video

James Canuso

Five of Mr. John Ostick’s AP Economics students won first prize in ACDCLeadership’s Music Video Competition, but also an accusation of copyright infringement from SONY Music.

Fiscal Funk Music Video
Fiscal Funk Music Video

Seniors John Kuyat, Jack Marchesani, Charlie Malone, and Mike Szipszky along with junior Nick Elia used “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson to create a winning music video centered on Macroeconomics – or the performance, structure, behavior, and decision making of the economy rather than individual markets.

“Winning feels great,” said Kuyat. “But I think more importantly is the fact that we can get the message of economics out there and show people that learning can be very fun.”

The contest consisted of over 180 entries. So what made Fiscal Funk the best?

The judges of the contest looked at three main elements: the singing, the video, and the economics content.

“The Fiscal Funk Music Video brought everything all together,” said Jacob Clifford, founder and CEO of ACDCLeadership, in an email interview. “[It has] Extensive Econ content and great singing, and a fun, well-thought-out video. Malvern Prep should be proud.”

ACDCLeadership is an organization founded in 2007 that provides digital resources and hosts camps to educate people about economics in various schools and districts around the country. Once a year they host an economics music video contest. Each school invites students to create music videos for a class grade, then send them in for the competition.

“I started this contest to get students excited about economics,” said Clifford.

“The idea of entering this contest,” said Ostick, “was that it was 3rd quarter, [and] as senior slide starts to creep in, I wanted to give the seniors something to do that was hands on where they would have to be working in teams. It is something they will be doing later in life.”

Malvern has been doing this contest for four years, according to Ostick. The closest they came to winning before Fiscal Funk was coming in third place last year with a video by Zach O’Neill, John Monday, Pearce Hobson, Tommy Ferrari, and Drew Barrar. The videos are supposed to be parodies of popular songs and at the same time have high level econ content.
“When we first started out in the contest, the students usually had good content, which is what I graded them on, but their video quality didn’t match up to other schools in the contest,” said Ostick. “Every year, we got better. And this year, we had a group of performers who were all in the play, so the singing was good. But the quality of the video and the techniques they used were also great.”

“The only problem with being the champion is defending your title next year,” said Clifford.

Unfortunately, with success arose another problem. On May 14, SONY Music accused the Fiscal Funkers of copyright infringement. SONY said the students did not have authorization for the work that they created based on “Uptown Funk.”

Since the student video was created for educational or parody purposes, it seemed as though SONY would not win the case.

However, Fiscal Funk was taken down from YouTube due to infringement on copyrighted music (Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”).

SONY Music contacted Malone, who uploaded the video, and gave him options to re-post it without music or have it taken down. They chose to take it down for the time being.

In the following week, Malone corresponded with YouTube and secured that the video was for educational and parody purposes. The video was restored online.

“Sony was thwarted again by the likes of high schoolers,” said Marchesani.