It’s not often that I get letters submitted anonymously to this site, so I took my time to read the following passage. It really brought to my attention of something serious in our own music community here on the gulf coast. So I did a little research and it appears to be very true. I am posting it in its entirety and in doing so, asking for you leave your opinions and comments on it. Let me know what you think.
Every artist wonders what they’d do if their songs were stolen. How would you feel if you learned there was copyright infringement happening right here on the Gulf Coast? Whether copyright infringement is intentional or unintentional the consequences are the same.
Donn Hupp has been a member of the Coast music community since he moved to Mississippi from Nashville some time in the 90s. He was once a respected songwriter in the Country/Folk genre, hosting The Julep Room’s unique ‘originals only’ Songwriters Night for a number of years, playing festivals all over as both a solo artist and as an accompanist to other artists and bands, and most importantly, serving for a while as a symbol of the true songwriter who’d ‘been there/done that’ and lived to play another day. Over the years Hupp offered countless musicians what seemed like really sound advice. He preached the integrity of original music and the importance of having a venue that embraced it. He lied. And along the way he endangered venues who at one time didn’t host cover songs because they weren’t covered with Performing Rights Organizations. He endangered the artists who helped him record his album with no idea that they were helping him infringe copyright. He endangered the artists who played live with him. He lied to dedicated fans all over the Gulf Coast. The shocker is that in a decade or longer no one ever caught on until last month.
In April 09 Hupp was a featured artist on sfcLIVE – a relatively new but exceedingly popular music podcast recorded from The Julep Room in Ocean Springs, MS and broadcast from www.cellarsounds.com. sfcLIVE is a showcase for the ORIGINAL music of independent bands and artists along the entire Gulf Coast of every genre, focusing on the artists who have interesting stories and solid music but for whatever reason don’t receive attention elsewhere. Hupp’s show was presented as Episode 12 of sfcLIVE and in the same day that it went online it was taken back offline by the website’s administration. And it’s never seen the light of day again. I was curious so I investigated.
It seems Donn Hupp has been ripping off Country artist Billy Dean (www.billydean.com) for the last 10 or so years to the tune of the songs “Simple Things” “Starting Over Again” and “The Mountain Moved.” He’s somehow successfully passed these songs off as his own even going so far as to record them and sell them for a lot of profit for almost as long as he’s been performing them, never once giving credit to the songwriters or to Billy Dean. It took only a few hours once the show was online at the sfcLIVE website for an anonymous listener to bring it to the attention of the site’s administration and for the owners of the site to pull the show down so that they could verify the claim. They found the accusations to be 100% fact and deleted Hupp’s episode permanently, barring him from any future dealings with their company. On Demand Media, the parent company, has each artist sign a contract releasing sfcLIVE and its owners from liability in the event that fraud occurs, so long as they take immediate action to remove the materials from their site and I doubt honestly they thought a member of their own community would be the case in point for why they must use the artist contract. I was told that cellarsounds.com is in the process of rewriting its Terms of Service in regard to theft so that any other artists may be too afraid of getting caught to even submit their stolen music to sfcLIVE for review. It’s mind-boggling that none of Hupp’s peers or listeners ever realized he was completely ripping off a world-renown artist.
The fact that it took one listener a matter of minutes to recognize the lies is a testament to the power of media. If you do something wrong you are going to get caught. The fact that the listener did report it, that the site’s owners took all necessary actions to remove it, and that this anonymous writer decided to expose it for the sake of every artist who might read this article, is a testament to the fact that if you’re the one who decides to flat out lie and then invite everyone on board the wagon you know has a bum wheel, those people are sure to jump off before the crash and save themselves from your deception and embarrassment, leaving you to deal with the implications by yourself.
That’s as much as I know to be fact about Donn Hupp singer-songwriter. Let this be a lesson to everyone: Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Never never never take some else’s art. Hupp himself asked on the lost episode as he blasted a former radio DJ for sharing a line of his that ended up on another famous artist’s album, “How can you ever know your music safe?” Who’d like Donn Hupp’s answer to that question now?