The song, “Rock and Roll Part 2,” plays for about two minutes as star Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the Joker, dances down a flight of stairs.
And that’s not all.
Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, is probably making money off the song’s use in the movie, too.
It’s unclear exactly how much Glitter could make, but attorney John Seay, who specializes in entertainment law, broke down the general process.
Basically, every song has two copyrights — the publishing copyright (the actual composition of the song, like its words and melody) and the actual sound recording (also known as the master). Because Glitter is a co-writer on the song, he probably owns some percentage of the publishing on the track, Seay said.
The master is typically owned by the recording company, but Seay said it’s possible that the rights have reverted back to Glitter. Whatever money coming out of the song’s use would also have to get filtered through whatever record deal Glitter has.
In some countries outside of the US, movie theaters also pay performance royalties for music used in films. ‘Joker’ has already been released internationally, and Glitter stands to make money that way as well. Though single payments from theaters are tiny, Seay said they could add up to a “significant payday.” He’ll also get paid when the movie airs on TV.
Regardless, Glitter is making money, Seay said. And the amount could be in the six figures range.
The ethics of using a song by a pedophile
It’s not just about the money, though. Some are questioning the morality of including the song and bringing profit to a convicted child sex offender.
Glitter was sentenced in 2015 to 16 years in prison after being convicted of child sex abuse. The British former pop star was convicted of one count of attempted rape of a girl under 13 years old, one count of having sex with a girl under the age of 13 and four counts of indecent assault against girls.
In 1999 he admitted to possessing child pornography — landing him in jail for four months. Seven years later, while living in Vietnam, he was convicted of sex offenses against young girls and jailed for almost 3 years.
Though some may claim the use of the song could be an intentional choice by filmmakers, Warner Bros. has not publicly commented. CNN reached out for further comment and have yet to hear back.
CNN and Warner Bros. are owned by the same parent company, WarnerMedia.
The song’s differing contexts
In 2012, the NFL banned the song from the Super Bowl, as a version of it was being used as a touchdown anthem for the New England Patriots at the time.
Fans in the US, though, still tend to associate the song more with victorious sporting events, whereas in the UK Glitter’s pedophilia is more widely known.