Wednesday, March 29, 2006

lizard alien

As regular Badgerers will know, Chris De Burgh is the minion of a race of alien shapeshifting lizards who work to take over planet earth.

De Burgh mocks us with his lyrics such as Don't Pay The Ferryman (about not trusting those in powerful positions) and A Spaceman Came Travelling (about an alien come to take over the world). He tries to weaken us into a state of advanced nausea with The Lady In Red.

He tries to deflect our opprobrium by being nice to some lovely donkeys.

But it won't wash, De Burgh! Despite Jim Bliss falling for it and buying all your albums on all formats, the rest of us are smarter than you realise! When you use your fortune to amass alien technologies, we know it is a blatant admission of your lizardly ways!

Thus I was not fooled into any other conclusion when I saw the headline - I shit you not - Chris de Burgh buys Alien 'icon'

Sunday, March 26, 2006

making a killing

Well, it couldn't last. I found a chance to praise the Department for International Development, so they've come out fighting to reclaim their position as a bunch of scumfucks who force privatisation on poor nations with the result that those who can't pay for services like education and clean water have to go without.

The Independent has been running some great front page stories, covering serious issues that the other papers ignore. It's a smart move commercially as much as anything else. In these online days, newspapers aren't up to date, they carry yesterday's news. By picking important but ongoing stories, The Independent, unlike all other newspapers, isn't giving the impression of being behind the times.

Last week they ran one of these front page splashes about the fortunes being made by private companies getting contracts from the UK government in Iraq.

This riled DfID Minister (and, unfortunately, my constituency MP) Hilary Benn who responded with twaddle even he can't really believe:

Decisions about Iraq's future and its development are being made by the Iraqi people.

So, given that less than 1% of Iraqis think occupying forces give any improvement in security and over 80% want troops to leave, are they going to do so any time soon?

To whom they go for help, advice and expertise is a matter for them.

I must have missed the Iraqi referendum that picked Halliburton.

Iraq has already come along in a short time but there is a huge job to be done to change it from a dictatorship to a democracy. That's where we are helping.

Ah right. And the oil wells are just a nice little bonus.

I need a new thesaurus. The one I have in front of me doesn't list 'democracy' and 'foreign-dominated free-market capitalist client state of the USA' as synonyms.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

because they're worth it

Some folks have been surprised that The Body Shop is being bought out by L'Oreal. Yet L'Oreal stopped testing much of their stuff on animals 15 years ago, whilst the Body Shop has never actually eradicated animal-tested ingredients. Just because they give their staff shirts with AGAINST ANIMAL TESTING on as workwear doesn't mean they actually stopped selling animal tested products.

As the Body Shop grew, so the drive for profit overtook the drive for ethics. The founding urge to make a moral stand became a mere marketing ploy to capture a particular niche, as Jon Entine testified:

For the first and only time, I was allowed to ask [Anita Roddick] a question. I cited a version of her speech, given in 1993, in which she called for a boycott of China. 'How do you square your call for a boycott when The Body Shop sources dozens of products from China? According to fair trade organisations, you have personally rebuffed pleas to switch to more ethical sources.' She shot me a look. 'You just don't understand, do you? I was talking about what business should do, not what we actually do. My job is to inspire. But we have a bloody business to run.'

Ethics are nice, and to appeal that caring niche market they should be emphasised as strongly as possible, but at the root there's straightforward profit motive above all other considerations.

As Corporate Watch explained in their Corporate Law And Structures report,

Yes, the ideology incorporates social and environmental values, but only as secondary considerations. For most people, economic values are secondary, and social and to a lesser extent environmental values come first: making money is good but only if it doesn’t conflict with believing it’s wrong to murder, steal or cut down virgin rainforest.

For the corporate ‘environmentalist’, profit is absolute, social and environmental values are relative: their first aim is to make as much money as possible, but given two ways to make that money they choose the one that requires the least murder, blatant theft or environmental destruction. Then they pat themselves on the back for being so responsible.

The ethical stance is always going to be at odds with the profit motive. The conflict in Anita Roddick is illustrated in her vocal and hefty financial support for anti-globalisation protests in Seattle whilst doing adverts for American Express.

The scales tipped for the Body Shop when the founders sold their controlling interest in the company. At that point it ceded any residual moral position and became a mere profit engine.

In the same way that there's surprise about the Body Shop takeover, people raised their eyebrows high when organic chocolate makers Green & Black's were bought up by Cadbury's last year. However, it had been fated from the moment in 1999 that founder Craig Sams sold a majority share to two venture capitalists, people whose ethical stance is evidenced by their other major holdings being in tobacco firms.

As Douglas Rushkoff said,

See, "selling out" has nothing to do with making money doing business, and everything to do with selling off the entire enterprise in order to make money, instead. Sure, if you're really bored with the business you've built, go ahead and get rid of it.

But remember, the minute you sell your company - and this includes going "public"- you're no longer a shoemaker, muffin baker, or airplane designer. You and the company you built are the asset of a group of shareholders. And believe me, most of those shareholders don't even know or care what you do or believe. They just want your shares to pop so they can sell for a fast buck. And you've signed paper promising to do what they say.

Roddick twigged this, but not until after she'd flogged the company. Going public is Body Shop's biggest mistake, says founder ran one headline.

An arresting illustration is given in Behind The Mask, Christian Aid's report on 'corporate social responsibility':

the constraints on responsible behaviour are at least as great as the incentives to improve corporate social and environmental practice. Even companies that have made responsible practice their stock in trade are subject to such constraints. The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick discovered as much when her company, shortly after stock market floatation, built a soap factory in one of the poorest parts of Glasgow and pledged 25 per cent of the profits to the community. ‘The financial analysts didn’t really like us too much,’ she said recently. ‘They accused us of stealing the profits from shareholders.’

Yet Roddick hasn't backed away from the profit driven Body Shop. As a major shareholder, she's recommended others join her in approving the L'Oreal takeover.

Despite the different image, The Body Shop's methods and motivations have been converging with L'Oreal's for some time. The takeover is not some massive shift on the part of The Body Shop, it's merely making manifest their real purpose.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

greenpeace's shameful silence

From the last post's greenwash on the Icelandic dam issue, there's another coat of it being painted on by a surprising brush (hear the 'ping' as the metaphor is stretched to breaking point?).

Last year I wrote an article about Iceland's plans to dam all its major glacial rivers to provide power for heavy industry.

At the end of it there was a note about how Greenpeace have been peculiarly quiet on the issue. I've done some more research, and the truth of the matter is that Greenpeace have a despicable policy of not just ignoring the issue, but they are actively lying about it.

I've written a piece about it called Iceland: Greenpeace's Shameful Silence and it's just been published here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

poisoning iceland

There's a shiny new Pure Iceland exhibition at the Science Museum in London. It's sponsored by large Icelandic corporations including Landsvirkjun, the power company building hugely destructive dams to power highly polluting aluminium smelters in Iceland.

Hydroelectric dams are not clean, green friends of the climate. The plantlife they submerge decays without oxygen, so it gives off methane. This is serious stuff - methane's impact on the greenhouse effect is 25 times that of CO2. The dissolved methane is released into the atmosphere as the water passes through the dam's turbines.

Even after the initial flooding of the land, the methane production continues as seasonal drops in reservoir levels allow plants to grow which are later submerged. So, for example, a study of the greenhouse effect emissions from the Curuá-Una dam in Brazil showed that, even more than a decade after filling, it was nearly four times worse than if the same amount of electricity had been generated from burning oil.

Moreover, with Iceland's glacial rivers carrying so much silt, the dams aren't even a renewable source of electricity in any real sense. Kárahnjúkar, the first dam, will silt up entirely somewhere between 50 and 400 years after opening, never to be usable again.

That silt should have gone out to sea where it would have bonded atmospheric CO2 with calcium to form calcite and other minerals. This effect is greatest in recently formed volcanic territory such as Iceland. Instead, the silt will clog up the ‘renewable’ dam and the CO2 will remain in the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

I call Pure Iceland an 'exhibition', but it stretches the definition of the word somewhat. There's a 3ft model of a volcano at the entrance to a large room. The room has a couple of benches in, and projections on the four walls.
- One is of some water lapping with a mountain in the distance.
- Another shows nice natural things like waterfalls with their names in Icelandic.
- The third has some plain text facts about Icelandic life, such as the quantity of cod caught by their fishing fleet.
- The fourth has a map with brief details of things like icecaps.

All in all, you get more information from the first two pages of a guide book (or indeed the exhibition promo leaflet), and it's nothing that a 12 year old couldn't have come up with in 10 minutes.

The second room has more model volcanoes as a backdrop for the actors presenting drama interpretations and children's stories that, ahem, inform and educate the visitor.

It's only once you get round the far side through another exhibition, the BP-sponsored Energy Gallery, that you come to some computers with the info on Icelandic energy as trumpeted in the promotional leaflet.

Away from this dislocated area, the information in the main body of the exhibition is so scant that it clearly doesn't exist to educate. It exists so that people are aware of it existing, rather than coming and learning from it. It is there to get people to associate 'Iceland' with concepts like pure, natural, clean. It does so because the image is under attack from what's really going on. In short, the exhibition is greenwash.

The leaflet refers to Iceland's 'spare clean energy', as if it were already being produced and just sitting there. Kárahnjúkar is the largest infrastructure project of its kind in all of Europe. It will obliterate a vast unspoilt wilderness with direct ruinous effects on an area the size of Greater London. There are about a dozen more dams to be built if the Icelandic government gets their way.

This is neither clean nor spare. The greening of hydro is only possible by comparing some of its effects with things even more destructive.

In the UK, Scottish & Southern Electricity get their 'green electricity' from dams. Their spokesperson said 'We know some environmentalists have a problem with dams. But as far as we see it, it's power from water running down hills. The water would still run down the hills even if there wasn't a dam there. We think it's the greenest form of electricity there is.'

The water would be running down the hills, thereby giving the valley a running stream. As opposed to submerging the land and everything that lived on it, giving off huge quantities of methane whilst depriving land beyond the dam of its established water supply.

As if that's not enough, SSE's position doesn't even represent any misguided commitment to hydro electricity, merley spin on what they do anyway; it's just that dams were amongst the things they bought when British electricity was privatised.

In some ways, I wish Kárahnjúkar was happening to protected land in the UK rather than Iceland. If this were in Snowdonia we'd all be up in arms and the environmental organisations like Greenpeace who've kept a shameful deliberate silence on the matter would be making themselves heard.

As it is, it's come down to Icelanders and some brave individuals from elsewhere to mount the resistance.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

pouring cold water on our future

'Atlantic thermohaline circulation' (ATHC) is the technical term for the flow of warm water from the tropical Atlantic up to the north, the system that includes the Gulf Stream.

Despite being on an equal latitude with many freezing bits of Canada and Eastern Europe, we Western Europeans enjoy a much milder climate thanks to the huge warmth brought to us by the ATHC. It currently transports about 1 petawatt (10 to the power of 15 Watts) of heat poleward, a million billion Watts.

To give some proportion here, human civilisation currently uses 10 terawatts of energy (10 to the power of 13 Watts), so the heat transported by the ATHC could run 100 Earth civilizations. Conversely, 1% of the heat transported by the ATHC could supply all of humanity’s current energy use. As a result of this enormous northward heat transport, Europe is up to 8°C warmer than other places on its latitude, with the largest effect in winter.

But if climate change continues, the Greenland ice sheet will melt and flood cold freshwater into the Atlantic. If it does it rapidly enough, it'll shut down the Gulf Stream and we freeze.

It's happened before. The rise in temperature 15,000 years ago caused a North American ice sheet to melt, shutting down the ATHC and returning northern Europe to ice age conditions for 2,000 years.

Enormously scary, yes. But how likely is it really?

Last month, at the behest of the UK Government, the Met Office hosted an international scientific conference on climate change called Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change. The top scientific minds on the subject, all in proper scientific 'just the evidence' mode.

They found that, if we don't slow down our CO2 emissions - taxing the fuck out of producing them being the obvious way to encourage us - there's a two-thirds chance of shutting down the ATHC.

The threat can be

reduced from a 65-in-100 occurrence for no initial tax to a 28-in-100 occurrence for an initial tax of $100/tC[per ton of Carbon emitted]. If the tax were initiated 30 years later in 2035, then the $100/tC tax would reduce the 65-in-100 likelihood to a 42-in-100 likelihood, and a $200/tC tax somewhat further to a 38-in-100 occurrence.

Two-thirds odds on!

And even in the unlikely event of an immediate emissions tax of $100 a ton (about 6p per litre of petrol), there's still a one in four chance of shutting down the ATHC!

To see how likely such a tax would be, it would mean about $1m a week for every transatlantic jumbo jet; would airline lobbyists take that lying down? Now extrapolate your answer to all of the fossil-burning industries.

The report ascertained that the threshold of ATHC shutdown is a rise of 2.3°C. This is similar to the tipping point for other systems as mentioned by other speakers at the conference. 2° is where we see risk of collapse of the Amazon ecosystem, the end of Austrlian tropical forests, and by 2080 nearly half of humanity at risk of water shortage.

Two degrees. Emissions of greenhouse gases are likely to raise global temperatures by between 1.4° and 5.8° during this century.

In the light of all this the authors of the conference report concluded, 'It would therefore seem that the risk of an ATHC collapse is unacceptably large and that measures over and above the policy intervention of a carbon tax should be given serious consideration.'

The report is broken into four pdfs, all available here. Tony Blair's foreword gets one of its own. In it he says, seemingly in contravention of the report's findings and without any explanation of what he means, 'Action now can help avert the worst effects of climate change. With foresight such action can be taken without disturbing our way of life.'

Er, the people who know what they're talking about just said we need measures over and above the carbon tax that would eradicate a serious proportion of international trade, spell the end of mass use of cars and aeroplanes and increase the price of absolutely everything.

Listen Tony, and anyone else who thinks there'll be a hydrogen/biodiesel techno-fix, and anyone who deliberately breeds more Western consumers, and anyone who ever sets foot on an aeroplane; carrying on with our way of life means fucking everything up in the near future.

If we don't 'disturb' our way of life then we are seriously disturbing those who come after us. We get our cheap flights at the expense of them having enough food, heating or medical supplies.

To knowingly overconsume now is to say either, 'I'm going to take someone else's share' or 'I don't give a fuck about the survival of people two or three generations hence, nor a huge proportion of other species'.

A rise in temperature changes how other lifeforms react. They certainly have no alternative technologies to help them. If the acidity of the oceans takes out the plankton, it takes out the rest of the marine foodchain. If it makes plants flower out of synch with the insects that pollinate them, they don't fruit.

It's not just that we depend on the ecosystems we live in for oxygen and food. It is also that we surely have no right sweep away millions of species just to make room for a couple of generations of us having intercontinental travel and strawberries all year round.

Our grandparents did not consume and pollute like us. Our grandchildren will not be able to. Do we climb down from the edge, or do we keep running and hurtle over it?

The gruesome effects are not in some distant unimaginable future. We're talking about ecological collapse and water shortage for half of humanity during the lifetime of children being born today.

If we had lifespans of 500 years, if we had to live with the long-term consequences rather than just the immediate benefits, then we would not be living like this. So how can we possibly justify inflicting it on our children?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

copy rites

More on the copyright laws of music. A further insult/injury interface comes in the way royalties are paid for radio play. Big stations write down everything they play, and the performers, writers and publishers all get a little money every time something of theirs is played.

But the very small stations don't keep lists, they just pay a flat fee to the Performing Rights Society in much the same way as a restaurant or shop does. This dosh is then split among performers, writers and publishers by the PRS according to how much they're getting from the big stations.

Thing is, the small stations are more experimental and specialist than the mainstream ones, they don't play the same as the big stations. When I did Radio Savage Houndy Beasty shows on Leeds Student Radio playing Meredith Monk, The Church, John Zorn, Stina Nordenstam and Lieutenant Pigeon, the royalties were going to the likes of Robbie Williams, Noel Gallagher and Phil Fuckin Collins. The whole point of our shows - and indeed the station - was to oppose bland and predictable music, yet our stance actually gave financial reward to precisely that shit.

The haziness of crediting composition throws up many weird tales. When Norman Cook did Dub Be Good To Me, he agreed with the writers and publishers of Just Be Good To Me that his version was so different to the original that it didn't qualify as a full cover version. It really only used the lyric and some of the vocal melody, so he only paid 80% of the writer royalty.

The reason it was so different was cos he'd plonked the lyric over the distinctive bassline groove of Guns of Brixton by The Clash. The writers and publishers of that song agreed he'd nicked the tune but not the lyric, so they'd take a 50% royalty. Which meant Cook paid out 130% writer's royalty on the record. With every radio play and every copy sold, it cost him more money!

When Carter USM did After The Watershed, the Rolling Stones' publishers ABKCO sued them for using the words 'goodbye Ruby Tuesday'. Even though it was only three words and none of the music, Carter ended up giving the entire writers' royalty to Jagger/Richards. It should be noted none of this had anything to do with the Stones themselves; it was the doing of Allen Klein, briefly their manager in the late 60s and still the owner of the purblishing to some of their finest work.

The writer's credit for Can I Kick It is simply 'Lou Reed', as if the lyrics and beats and breaks were written by him too. Ironically, the bassline that gets Reed the royalty wasn't his but was done by Walk On The Wild Side's bassist Herbie Flowers.

In August 1991, Negativland released a single called U2 that featured a U2 spy plane, the lettering "U2", and Negativland's name in small print on its cover. The record featured 35 seconds of I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For mixed with an out-take tape of American Top 40 icon Casey Kasem slagging off U2 and swearing, some CB radio conversation, and inane commentary from one of Negativland.

They were swiftly sued by U2's label Island. After pressure from not only Island but also Negativland's own label SST, the single was withdrawn and all copies and master tapes handed over to Island. U2 themselves weren't even aware of any of it until Island had it sorted.

Negativland did a magazine documenting the saga. They were sued for that too. Having subsequently been given free legal advice ('pro Bono', so to speak), they believe their position is stronger than they first thought, and they've boldly done an expanded book-and-CD version of the magazine, FAIR USE: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2.

Their record was never going to be a replacement for a U2 record, nor could it be mistaken as one. Whilst it used a snatch of a U2 track, it couldn't conceivably impact on U2's income. It was not a song, it was an audio collage.

Negativland's Chris Grigg explained, "It's extremely effective to actually apply our hands to this media barrage, cut it up, and turn it into something else that comments on it. That's one of the best ways to make art that we can see right now. But that's the central problem: the laws don't realize the legitimacy of this... Cultural properties are a special kind of property: a car is not the same as a song. The idea behind copyright is that people who create should receive adequate compensation for what they've done, not every possible compensation. Once you go that far, you start putting manacles on culture; it marks the end of public thinking."

Negativland's record was not a rip-off any more than other records that use samples are rip-offs. In the 80s Robert Plant was asked how he felt about so many hip-hop tracks sampling Led Zeppelin drums and guitars. He said that it was new music, it challenged the listener in new ways totally unlike anything Led Zeppelin ever did so it was fine by him and he wasn't interested in suing for it. The people he felt he should be able to sue, but was unable to, were the metal bands who aped Led Zeppelin's sound and look, giving the listener nothing except a diluted version of something they already had.

With Radio Savage Houndy Beasty we do tracks ranging from totally self-authored to what could probably best be called remixes, with a massive spectrum of collage, sample, treatment and rearrangment in the middle. Much of it is surely in breach of copyright, but we just hope that we're too small to be worth suing.

Given that the royalties for broadcasting the stuff that we do unarguably create as original works are swiped by the biggest mainstream artists, it'd be a bit rich for a record label to complain. But as they have the money and we don't, I wouldn't fancy our chances in court.

It helps that much of our source material is really obscure. By far the most popular MP3 on our downloads page is Lollipop Man, a song we've comedically mislabelled as being a duet by Mariah Carey and Tom Waits. It's actually from a 1970s album of road safety material that nobody will recognise. Maybe Carey's people could sue, but it'd be tough to call.

In these days of download any publicity would only increase the distribution of the offending material, which would defeat much of the purpose of litigation. And, as decent recording/remixing software is now widespread, the amount of reworked stuff is so vast that the record companies simply cannot keep up with those of us doing it.

However, as I blogged a while back, that's exactly what Beatallica were mistakenly banking on. The band hybridise Beatles and Metallica songs, giving the resulting tracks away as free downloads. No money is made and it's not as if anyone is going to listen to Beatallica instead of buying a Beatles album.

Nonetheless, legal action was initiated by Sony, The Beatles' publishers. Fortunately, and slightly bizarrely, Metallica themselves stepped in and got their lawyers to defend Beatallica, and Sony backed down.

It's interesting to note how it's the record companies and publishers who've done the legal action, and that by and large the artists have defended it or at least stayed neutral.

Yet even when it's a case of not just sampling but actually copying whole albums, a record company doesn't always act. In the mid 90s Tom Robinson saw an album of his - Winter of 89 - bootlegged and distributed across Europe. Even though they had a good idea who was behind it, EMI's lawyers refused to investigate and sue as it was 'only a few thousand copies'.

This gave him an idea - if they wouldn't sue proper bootlegger they probably wouldn't sue a self-bootlegging artist either, so he bootlegged two of his own albums that had long been deleted. He sold them in places where no record company employee ever looks for records - Tom Robinson gigs and record shops.

Since the rise of the internet, Tom's been putting up free downloads on his site, and has repeatedly pointed out that the labels are greedy scumpigs. They always talk of free downloads as 'stealing from the artist', because they know that the more accurate 'possibly diminishing the profits of record companies' doesn't have the same guilt trip impact.

When you pay for a download from iTunes, your credit card company gets more than the writer or performer! The performer gets 7%, the writer 8%, credit card company 9%, Apple 15%, and - no prizes for guessing who gets the biggest share - the record company a whopping 61%.

As the runaway success of myspace has shown, there's a wealth of music being made out there. Rich artists don't need the extra money, the small artists are making music for the love of it and are glad of the exposure.

Myspace stars Arctic Monkeys showed that free downloads and record sales are not in competition; despite the majority of tracks from their debut album having been freely available in some form, it sold 360,000 copies in its first week alone - more than the rest of the top 20 combined, the fastest selling debut in history.

When you hand out stuff for free and people copy it, you break the stranglehold of the record companies' vision of ownership of music, you help to blur the lines that define ownership of creativity and ideas, and thus stimulate the creative landscape into bloom.

As Claire Fauset says,

In all these millenia of human existence
there can only be a few new ideas to be thought through.
So do we treat them like rare commodities?
Plunder arctic reserves for new ideas buried deep beneath the permafrost,
suffocate them with patent protection
and junk the rest?
Or do we re-use and recycle them?
Pile our public spaces high with shared ideas beyond anyone's imagining...

intellectual property is theft
and piracy is our only defence against the thought police.

The revolution
will be plagiarised!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

jazz does not exist

Further to the post about black art forms and intellectual property royalties, jazz theorist Conrad Cork said this in his ground breaking book Harmony With LEGO Bricks

Copyright Royalties

The legal position of the jazz artist’s work is nothing short of astounding. Put briefly, jazz does not exist. The only thing that exists in music copyright is ‘compositions’.

Other art forms exist in Western culture, and are understood. The series of paintings of the west face of Rouen cathedral that Monet made from his draughty open window above a lingerie shop between 1892 and 1894, for instance. Each of these is understood by everyone to be a unique work, and of course, a work by Monet.

In jazz terms, though, the unique work would be said to be the cathedral, and the royalties for each painting would go to the architect. If they were reproduced in a book, the printer would get a royalty too. In all cases, Monet would get nothing.

This is because legally the song is a composition, a set text, and if a jazz musician performs the song, then in law, a composition is being played. If there is any recognition of the uniqueness of what the jazz player does, it is in the performance being called an ‘arrangement’ of the composition. If someone transcribes the solo though, it is the transcriber who gets the copyright, not the musician. That is what I mean when I say that the jazz musician’s art does not exist in law.

This is unjust and absurd. It prevents books of solos from giving credit where it is due, and makes them give it where it isn’t.

For instance, in Brian Priestley’s excellent Front Line Jazz Piano Solos 2, there is a transcription of Keith Jarret’s solo on the track Autumn Leaves from Charles Lloyd’s album Dream Weaver. And in his Jazz Piano 3, there is a transcription of Bill Evans’s solo on Autumn Leaves from Portrait in Jazz.

Neither transcription includes any reading of the theme (although I would argue that even that is still not the playing of a composition). And, most significantly, neither mentions the jazz player’s name. Both transcriptions have the following at the top of the page:

(Les Feuilles Mortes)
English Lyrics by JOHNNY MERCER
French Lyrics by JACQUES PREVERT
Additional Verse Lyric by GEOFFREY PARSONS
Music © Copyright 1947 and 1984 by Enoch et Cie (France)
Lyrics © by Ardmore Music Corp (USA)
Sub/Published by Peter Maurice Co. Ltd

In other contexts, this might be actionable. As presented, it could be argued that it is ‘passing off’ the transcriptions as the composition, and somebody should sue the publishers, saying they expected it to be the composition, and it wasn’t. But you see what I mean about jazz not existing.

Further examples abound. Lionel Grigson’s ‘Study Books’, published by Novello, are limited to ‘performances’ of ‘compositions’ to which Novello owns the rights. Slone and Aebersold’s magnificent Charlie Parker Omnibook is © 1978 ATLANTIC MUSIC CORP, not even Slone or Aebersold, let alone Bird, and is ridiculously dotted with advertisements for things like textbooks on arranging.

Companies like Advance Music, in their admirable book of Chet Baker Solos, for example, try to get a little justice by tackling it another way. They avoid mention of the song as composition, heading each transcription ‘Chet Baker’s solo on the chord changes to...’. And Gary Campbell’s Hank Mobley Transcribed Solos has this on the title page: ‘the transcribed solos in this book utilize only the chord progressions of the title listed’.

This is fine as far as it goes, but it prevents them including any of Baker’s or Mobley’s opening choruses - the ones misleadingly called ‘theme statements', when they are, as much as Monet’s paintings, personal statements. But if they did put them in, they might get sued.

Andrew White, whose monumental achievement has been to transcribe all of Bird and all of Coltrane at first didn’t include Coltrane’s opening statements, but then started to put them in. When I asked him why the change in policy, he said he had realised he was too small to be worth suing!

In a recent email, Conrad told me that this piece is now a little out of date.

The bit about Advance Music using the formulation 'on the changes to [a song]' no longer holds. The copyright holders of the song sue now for that as well.