Drunken cop car serenade back on YouTube after copyright claim


Even music labels have a sense of humor. Hours after yanking a now-viral YouTube video of a man belting out Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from a police cruiser, EMI is now letting the video play on.

The video features Robert Wilkinson breaking into song on his way to be booked for impaired driving.

The 29-year-old Canadian man uploaded the recording to YouTube after receiving it as part of the prosecution’s evidence package. The video has since been viewed millions of times with viewers praising Wilkinson’s near perfect rendition of the song, including its iconic drum solo.

Yesterday, however, the National Post reported that EMI had removed the video for copyright reasons. While the record label technically has cause to do so, it appears to have had a change of heart and allowed the video to be restored.

It can be seen here with the song beginning at the thirty second mark.

The Mountie in the cruiser allows Wilkinson to perform the song without interruption. At the end of the ride, the cop agrees not to cuff him after Wilkinson states “physical violence is the least of my worries.”

Wilkinson has told Canadian media he has received calls from as far away as New York. The Toronto Star reports he also posted a “loving apology to Queen” on his Facebook page.



Record labels hold copyrights in sound recordings (such as, “records”, CDs, and MP3s), not musical compositions. The video does not include Queen’s recorded performance, so no “labels” are involved. Wilkinson performed the musical composition, which is probably controlled by EMI Music Publishing, a music publisher.

Jeff John Roberts

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, djjd. My guess is that EMI controls the public performance right. While Wilkinson — and anyone else — has the right to sing Queen in the back of a police car (provided the cops don’t mind), posting the performance on YouTube might be offside. As for Queen, I’m sure the ghost of Freddie Mercury enjoyed the rendition.

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