I received a cryptic message a few days ago from an anonymous source, telling me that I had to immediately retain an attorney and protect my intellectual property from the evil Korean CEO of Samsung. I wrote it off as the ranting of a delusional reader, as it’s not uncommon for me to receive paranoid emails from folks who, for one reason or another, feel compelled to warn me about impending corporate plots. Today, however, I got a second note concerning Samsung, and, this time, as it came from someone whom I know and trust, I took it a little more seriously. “You and Melissa should get a lawyer,” this person said. “Samsung’s new Gallaxy campaign is a total ripoff of your Severed Unicorn Head Superstore.”
So, I took to Google and found the following ad… which does seem to feature a severed unicorn head rather prominently.
While I like the idea of sending Samsung a letter demanding compensation, I don’t know that we’ve got legal grounds. Even if my business partner Melissa and I were the first to suggest that, for the good of all mankind, we need to hunt down all of the unicorns on the planet and liberate their heads, I don’t know that the idea is legally protectable… Are there any intellectual property attorneys in the audience? If so, is it possible to copyright the decapitation of mythical beasts in a general sense, or would someone have to be specific as to the method?
For what it’s worth, if I was ripped off in this instance, it wouldn’t be the first time that an ad company had done so. As some of you may remember, several years ago a pervasive Fox Sports ad started running which featured a song written and performed by my one-day-a-year band, The Monkey Power Trio, without our written consent. In that case, we’d known about it, and we’d been exchanging emails with their advertising firm, but they started running the spots before we had a signed contract in place, which is apparently a big no-no in that industry. In the end, we worked it out. We didn’t end up making much money for it, but we learned a lot… most notably, that ad agencies, devoid of any creative ideas of their own, just mine subcultures for things that can be appropriated. And that, I’m thinking, is probably what happened in the offices of CHI&Partners, when they were called upon to find something “edgy” for Samsung.
[Here's that Fox Sports ad, if you're interested.]
Sepaking of MPT, the new record is now out. It’s called Misreattached, and it was recorded a few summers ago in the basement of Ypsilanti’s Dreamland Theater. (While we’ve managed to keep our promise of meeting one day a year since 1995 to record a single, we’re a bit behind when it comes to actually getting them out, hence the fact that our 2010 recording, which is our 16th, is just coming out now.) I’m tempted to take this opportunity and apologize for these four songs that we’ve just committed to vinyl, but, given the fact that they were all written from scratch and recorded in a few hours time, with no practice, by old men who only pick up instruments one day a year, I think that I’ll try to curtail my self-criticism for the moment, and, instead, share this very nice letter that we just recently received.
…I worked at — when I was an undergrad 10-15 years ago, and played your records on my show quite a bit. A few of the other DJs and I started an electronic improv/noise band that was definitely inspired by your style of DIY/just people hanging out and having fun/not ever practicing/etc…
Everyone in — hated us, but we constantly used our radio station clout to open for really great bands so we could shove middle fingers into the faces of all the pretentious rock n rollers who worked their buttholes off. Oh such sweet times.
I moved on to — for grad school, and have been lucky throughout my life to play music with wonderful people who tiptoe on the balance of taking art seriously and not taking art seriously. Really, I owe you guys a bit of thanks for never breaking your promises to the world.
Some day soon I want to buy all of the 7″‘s. Is there a discount for getting them all at once? Have you ever considered making a CD compilation or getting a label to throw everything together? Or a booklet to collect all the singles like Pokey Man?
I loved the radio show interview. In a sense bittersweet since it removed a bit of the mystery involved in your 20 years of rock n roll anonymity. But it’s cool too. Awesomely cool.
Keep on doing it, dudes!
So, I guess, despite what I tell myself, some people actually like what we do, and look forward to our records. If you’re one of those people, and you’re able to steal $8 from your mother’s purse, you can order a copy of Misreattached online starting today.