Tom Waits Sticks
It to the Man Tom Waits has won his legal battle
against Volkswagen-Audi for using music
in a commercial that sounded amazingly
similiar to his song Innocent When
You Dream. Waits argued that
the music was essentially reverse-engineered
from his song, with the sound and singing
style co-opted from his own style.
The most interesting part of this scenario
is that the advertising firm that created
the commercial, Tandem, actually
first approached Tom to license
his song. Tom has a long standing reputation
of not allowing his music to be used for
advertising, so he turned down the offer.
Tandem then actually went ahead with
creating a sound-alike track, mimicking
Tom's musical and vocal style,
so as to co-opt his image. Pretty gutsy
considering they just put themselves on
Tom's radar screen, right? When
you also stop to consider that Tom
also has a history of suing others that
try to co-opt his image (Frito-Lay and
Germany's Opel), you have to wonder who
might be in charge at Tandem and whether
they still have a job.
The legal cage match went down in Spain,
where Tom was awarded 36,00 Euros
for copyright infringement and 30,000
Euros for violation of his moral rights,
based on an individuals reputation and
In a statement on the ANTI- Records web
site, the label was excited over the courts
decision, saying "It is the first
time that such moral rights - protecting
the personality and reputation of writers
and authors - have been established in
a Spanish court, acknowledging an artists
voice as his creative work." So Spain
has decided that an artist's style and
method are worthy of ownership, and artists
aren't just measured by their literal
output the song.
Call it Tom's intellectual property.
"It's part of an artist's odyssey,"
Tom said, "discovering your
own voice and struggling to find the combination
of qualities that makes you unique. It's
kind of like your face, your identity.
Now I've got these unscrupulous doppelgangers
out there my evil twin who is undermining
every move I make.''
In the fine standing tradition of an
upstart, he added, "Commercials are
an unnatural use of my work. It's like
having a cow's udder sewn to the side
of my face. Painful and humiliating."