Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mr Thomas' Final Solution

Viacom's legal battle with YouTube over fan-posted filmclips calls to mind a lengthy and entertaining policy document that David Thomas and the floating cast that is Pere Ubu have posted on the Web. It covers tours, intellectual property rights, band hirings and firings and promotions.

Pere Ubu's policy on audience recordings is pretty well "don't ask and we won't turn you down", but they draw the line at commercial exploitation without payment (understandably) and always appreciate a copy. As far as YouTube goes:

"There is nothing to prevent a fan from seeking our permission to post. There is a methodology for accomplishing this. We are freely available via email. The issue is permission, not money, not appreciation, not harm or benefit. It is politeness, respect, and appreciation for the fact that we are entitled to have absolute control of our own art. The beginning and end of the issue is Permission. When you want to use somebody's property you ask."

Fair call. The rest of the policy speil makes entertaining reading. For example, if you're a record store owner organising an in-store appearance (and Pere Ubu never do 'em, only Mr Thomas), you sure have to jump through a lot of hoops. Playing Pere Ubu songs ia a no no:

"The record store MUST NOT play any Pere Ubu recordings for the duration of Mr Thomas' visit. It is simply too embarrassing, draws undue attention to his presence & most importantly forces him to withdraw into a protective shell of weird uncommunicativeness. This is not desirable."

Pity the record company rep that doesn't comply with this:

"Immediately on arrival introduce Mr Thomas to as many people as possible, pointing out interesting facts & aiding the flow of conversation. Do not let Mr Thomas stand around like a lemon.

"IN-STORE ONLY: As soon as possible Mr Thomas must be guided to a chair from which he may play his accordion & dominate the immediate space in an absolutist manner.

"Mr Thomas should not be referred to as "Dave" or touched in an overly familiar way. His name is "David." Shaking hands is all the physical contact that should be needed."

Best of all is Pere Ubu's policy on promoters wanting to run giveaways:

"I never like them cuz I hate giving stuff away so it depends on whether the promotional advantage is worth promoting a welfare-state mentality within the populace of the USA. That's a decision I leave to you... along with its karmic load. Long ago we determined what trivia questions are to be used for Pere Ubu giveaways. Choose one:

* Name two of General Lee's corps commanders at Gettysburg.
* Quote one of Henry David Thoreau's aphorisms.
* Name the author of this line: 'Then I saw the Congo, creeping through the black, cutting through the forest with a golden track'."

Read the whole thing here.

No comments: