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   Photo: Anton Corbin

Tom Waits Sticks It to the Man AGAIN


By: Spacelab Research Staff
Once again, Tom Waits has set out to protect his artistic identity and won. He's just settled a lawsuit against German carmaker Adam Opel AG for the use of music that sounds like his.

Instead of actually just licensing a song from Mr. Waits, Adam Opel's advertising agency McCann just hired a musician to reverse engineer the a song that sounds like his but, is different on a note by note comparison. They also hired a singer who sounds like him. This is not unheard of in the advertising industry, as most believe that the legal definition of copyright makes the new song creation different than the original composition. No law breaking, right?

Wrong. Tom Waits has proven for the second time in a year that an artist's identity, signature sound , and style are just as important. Last year Tom sued Volkswagen-Audi and their advertising firm Tandem for doing the very same thing. That time he won outright in court. This time Adam Opel decided it was better to quietly settle.

Waits had sued for $300,000 for copyright infringement and breach of private rights.

"I'm glad to be out of the car sales business once and for all," Said Tom in a statement issued after the settlement.

It's also worth mentioning that that Adam Opel is owned by General Motors, who just announced that their accounting was wrong over the past couple of years (oops, my bad!) and will restate their earnings to the tunes of tens of billions of dollars in losses. I guess they decided that they didn't need more bad publicity.

Can you smell that? That's change... the copyright landscape is evolving and cases like this do seem to show that the institutional hierarchy of huge corporations don't get a carte-blanche pass like they used to.

After last year's win over Tandem and Volkswagen-Audi, Tom said "It's part of an artist's odyssey, 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.''

"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."


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