Tom Waits locked in legal battle with French theater artist Bartabas over use of his songs
Waits claims songs used by French act Bartabas were never cleared for use.
Tom Waits, the American singer and actor, has put forward a second legal claim in French courts to stop a potential UK appearance by French avant-garde circus act Bartabas the Furious. The dispute revolves around a set of 16 songs used in a new show titled On Achève Bien les Anges which Waits claim were never properly cleared for use.
As reported by The Guardian, the dispute has been ongoing since last month when Waits first brought the matter to court in the hopes of having the show stopped.
A judge ruled in favour of Bartabas who says he approached Waits’ agent for permission and that a €400,000 fee has already been paid. Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan, who co-wrote the songs in question, claim the songs are the “narrative heart and soul” of the new equestrian ballet and the pair are seeking €500,000 in compensation.
In his statement, Waits expresses surprise at the situation. “Honestly, France is the last country I ever expected to encounter this situation: they have a minister of culture for Chrissakes!; moral rights and a strong commitment to honour, support and defend artists.”
It continues, “The songs have value; my name and image have value; my voice has value. This value is cultural, artistic, and personal as well as economic. […] I turn down all commercial product endorsement offers and rarely collaborate or lend my name or work to other endeavours. It is my choice to get paid or not to get paid. And that value has been taken and exploited for the profit and promotion of Bartabas’s career and for his religious and political ideology, which neither the songs nor I chose to express. In short, it violates the integrity of my work.”
Following the first court decision the show has continued to take place in Paris, where Bartabas’ troupe Zingaro are based. Plans to bring the show to the UK in 2017 would be affected unless the ongoing legal battle is resolved.