Tom Waits, the famous American actor and singer has become embroiled in a dispute with Bartabas the Furious. For people unaware, Bartabas is a circus star in France and widely thought of as one of France's favourite performers. The stand-off concerns the use by Bartabas of some of Waits songs in his show and it threatens to derail plans to bring the show to Britain.
Waits claims that Bartabas is using 16 of his songs in his ballet 'On Acheve Bien les Anges' (They Shoot Angels, Don't They) without permission. Waits says that the songs feature so prominently in the show that they form the 'narrative heart and soul' of the production and Bartabas in effect impersonates Waits on stage. Waits and his wife (and song writing partner) Kathleen Brennan are claiming €500,000 compensation as they say that their permission was never obtained to use the songs.
The dispute has already come before the French courts when Waits called for the production to be stopped. The Court found in favour of Bartabas who claimed he approached Waits' agent for permission to use the songs and said that a fee of €400,000 had in fact already been paid. Bartabas said that he would not have created his show in the same way if he had not had permission to use the songs.
Waits has now appealed the decision of the French court and a final decision on this matter is due next year. Waits appears determined to pursue this matter as far as he can stating that he turns down all commercial product endorsement offers and he feels his work has been exploited for the profit and promotion of Bartabas's career, violating the integrity of his work.
Bartabas had previously suggested that he had plans to bring his show to the 2017 Edinburgh Festival. This now appears unlikely unless this dispute can be resolved and based on the public statements of Waits and his lawyers it is unlikely that it will be.
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