Once upon a time, in a decade far far away, I became fascinated with the music of this weird character called Frank Zappa. Then along came the internet, and it didn’t take long before I had my own little homepage dedicated to the man. We’re talking 1999. It was called “The Way I See It Barry“, and it received about 10 visitors per day. It offered transcriptions of interviews, an image gallery and, at about the turn of the millenium, a fun little regularly updated feature entitled “Hot Poop“. Soon, this little feature turned out to be the most popular section of my little homepage.
Fast forward to late 2007, and we’re getting some 2000 visitors per day — Hot Poop visitors exclusively. A chill runs across much of the FZ fan-community as the ZFT issues Cease & Desist letters to KUR, tribute bands and festivals for — well you can read all about that here. Our initial reaction is to just keep spreading the Zappa Gospel, while complying to the ZFT’s idiotic demands. And then it hits — like a brick:
Exactly who the fuck are we going through all this trouble for?
Not FZ, nor his musical legacy — at least not anymore. The internet’s Summer of Love couldn’t have ended more poignantly than with the Zappa Family Trust spitting in our face for attempting to keep the music of Frank Zappa alive, and for attracting new fans. I think I can speak for all of us here when I say that C&D left us with a sour taste in the mouth. We find the ZFT’s morbid tactics of divide and conquer misguided, counter-productive and, well, disgusting. It has taken all the fun out of working on this site. We’ve had enough.
As of now, this weblog will no longer be focussing exclusively on FZ news. Mind you, the official site does a much better job at that, don’t you think?
What FZ news is there around anymore anyway? More releases from a Vault that’s proving to be less and less mythical? Another ZFT endorsed Zappa Beer? New ZPZ gigs with no Special Guests because all of the Zappa alumni are fed up with the way they are being treated like shit? More C&D’s telling fans around the world to bend over and comply?
So now what? Stay tuned. Changes are afoot, bear with us. As much as it grieves me to give up on this blog in its present form — a baby I’ve lovingly raised and nurtured for over seven years — it is now time for a radical U-turn.
An official FZ site where valuable information is deemed secondary to flashy, incomprehensible, impenetrable animation
ZFT Newsletters that prefer to cast aside factual clarity in favor of poorly written pseudo FZ speak (“the frost is on the pumpkins!”)
I’ll just leave that choice up to you. Moving on:
What would Frank think of this barrage of lawsuits against people who just want to keep his memory alive, enraged fans wonder? My guess is he’d approve. He was a self-proclaimed capitalist-libertarian like Ron Paul with a history of lawsuits to regain control of his music.
My guess is FZ would recognize the efforts of these tribute bands/fan sites and value them for what they attempt to achieve: to keep his music alive. Sure, he was adamant about keeping control over his own music, and rightly so — but in this case we’re talking about FZ vs Big Record Companies™ and unscrupulous bootleggers looking to make a fast buck. Project/Object, Zappanale et all can hardly be categorized as such.
Surely you can’t accuse a band playing such obtuse music as Zappa’s of being only in it for the money?
To ask such a question is to answer it.
Myself, I’d much rather hear a Zappa-informed act like the Spinto Band than a huddle of Zappa acolytes recalling Brown Shoes Don’t Make It and Why Does It Hurt When I Pee. Somehow, the Mother of Invention is the only one capable of making profane songs sacred.
The issue at hand is not about what any given Zappa fan would like to hear — it is about the alleged illegality of grassroots fan sites and small time tribute bands. It is about whether such litigation, should it ever come to court, would even hold ground.
In all: a poorly informed mish mash of an article, Mr Adams, if you don’t mind my saying so. You, Sir, are terminally clueless. Admit that, at the very least. I know: takes balls though, does it not?
Outrageous: we’ve received a video showing what we presume to be a young webmaster held hostage and forced to confess at gunpoint.
Gunshots could be heard on the tape and it’s clear that the prisoner has been denied basic human rights, and contact with family for at least five years, and given no access to the outside world. I strongly advice to the faint of heart to NOT watch this video. Torture can never be justified, and must be clearly condemned.
Roy’s son Nick regularly features a version of ‘Titties and Beer’ in live concerts (at which Roy has taken the role of the Devil), and has also been known to break into a snippet of ‘St. Alphonso’s Pancake Breakfast’. Well worth seening live – an excellent guitarist & witty songwriter in his own right. His latest double live album is selling for a very reasonable price now at Quixotic Records, and latest news is that the ZFT have given permission for TAB to appear on a future album.
The Zappa Wazoo liner notes mention “Cover Art ‘Mundo Invisible’ (oil on canvas, 60″ x 72″) by Christopher Mark Brennan, 2003″ which itself is a derivative work of the excellent Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire (oil on canvas, 46.5″ x 65.5″) by Salvador Dalí, 1940.
Actually I was curious to know whether any permission was needed and/or requested to the Dalí Family Trust (la Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí) prior painting and then publishing. This painting should not fall in the public domain before 2010 thanks to the copyright extensions, right?
Does this constitute a copyright infrigement? Does this respect the original intent of the painter?
If you haven’t already, we still urge you to sign the petition regarding the ZFT’s recent “Aggressive Actions”. 1208 signatures at this time of writing — not too shabby for a petition that’s been online for 4 days, but the more the merrier, obviously. You’ll find yourself in the company of such illustrious names as Jon Naurin, Robert Kevorkian, Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black, Nigey Lennon and Candy Zappa.
For those of you who wish to be kept abreast (now there’s a wonderful expression): there’s a direct link to the petition at the right of this page. See that little banner with Dr Sharl’s hand waving at you? Indeed.
Meanwhile, these litigations have been gaining interest on several weblogs who specialize in intellectual property and fair use. Couple of links:
We the undersigned petition the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) to cease and desist from making threats of legal action against FZ tribute bands, FZ fan sites, Zappa music festivals and other related activities that are designed first and foremost to honour and promote Frank’s music, despite not being ‘approved’ by the ZFT.
While we applaud the work that the ZFT has done – especially in recent years, with the Zappa Plays Zappa tours and the release of CDs & DVDs such as Buffalo, Wazoo and Baby Snakes – we do not see those threatened by the ZFT as being in any way detrimental to Frank’s legacy. Indeed, while recognising that there truly can be no real substitute, we perceive any attempt to curb such alternative activities will be more likely to have a detrimental impact on the legacy.
We consider that the ZFT would be better targeting those who produce and sell Zappa bootleg recordings and pirate memorabilia – of which there are a numerous examples on the Internet. If the ZFT are to unleash the lawyers, they should be aimed at them and not us – the truly devoted fans.
To be perfectly clear: I think the Zappa/Wazoo release is fantastic. However this is how the “official” page shows up in Google (and other search engine) results — “skip”, the link that allows you to bypass the introductory flash animation, being the only one single word that gets to be picked up, and therefor shows up in search results. Is it any wonder that people end up clicking on other search results?
Peter of United Mutations weighs in. Quick link and quote, in case the post were to be deleted (though it can’t happen there, can it?!):
Come on, ZFT, isn’t it possible to make your point of view clear without sending lawyers? Shouldn’t we be able to communicate in a friendly way? Don’t we have a common interest somewhere?
Dear ZFT, I do not like the way you’re handling this, and I think I’m not alone.
This post is about how legal, or illegal, it is to offer up a non-officially recorded and/or released live show for download.
Let us examine who is likely to download one of these shows in the first place. No, let us first examine the audio quality of the show in question. More often than not, it will suck. B+, A-, they are euphemisms for “bad quality audio”.
Next, on to the profile of the “Potential Downloader”. Debby from around the corner, who is into Beyonce sure doesn’t fit that profile (the poor girl’s in for a big surprise if she downloads any of this “depraved music”). This leaves us with two main categories: (1) the Curious Neophite Zappa fan — a potential customer, and (2) the Completist — a registered customer, one who has bought pretty much all of the official releases, interested in hearing any one single note difference between show A (say, November 15, 1973) and B (November 16, 1973, Late Show).
These are our demographics — agreed?
Explain to me then, how it is deemed a crime to make these live shows freely available for download online. The Curious Neophite, at best, will end up buying official releases, that have much better quality. The Completist will gently nod his head while puffing his pipe, dreaming of the next official release. Moreover, if these shows are not presented freely, some asshole on eBay will be making a profit off of selling them — regardless of how much the audio quality sucks.
A closing quote, if I may. It comes straight from the liner notes of FZ:OZ, as written by GZ:
Bill Lantz, thanks (you bastard) for (not saying by what means you came by) this tape and cooperating (anyway).
These unofficial live shows, in circulation right this minute in so many places, even if we at KUR no longer publish them, serve as food for thought and conversation. They are an essential part of keeping alive the musical legacy of Eff Zee. They provoke discussion among the Completists, lure the Curious Neophite into buying official releases; and as such, should not be banned from the net in my opinion.
On December 11, at 11 pm Belgian time, we were sent an email from the Berger Kahn Law Corporation, carbon copied to one Gail Zappa. The subject line read:
Cease and Desist Infringements Re: Zappa Family Trust
Attached was a three page pdf document, outlining in fuzzy lawyer-speak how we are blatantly violating ZFT copyrights across the board here at KUR. You can view all three pages here: page one, page two, page three.
You can imagine our excitement — to get noticed by the ZFT! The Honor! The Honor!
You know what: The Suits are right on all accounts.
To have transcriptions on our website of long-out-of-print magazine interviews with FZ, which took me many late hours to type out and at times translate? Dude!
To present snippets of FZ lyrics on our website which showcase his incredible sense for Conceptual Continuity? What were we thinking!
To have artwork of FZ releases up on our discography section, so that readers would know what their next purchase at Barfko Swill could be? Not done, period!
All kidding aside: we believe the material posted on this website would fall well within the definitions of “fair use” in the event of a lawsuit. However, we simply lack the financial means to fund such a lawsuit.
Can’t afford no shoes. Sigh.
Therefor: behold the new lay-out! It is, we hope, in compliance with the Cease & Desist letter so graciously sent to us by the ZFT.
It is also temporary. We have new plans for KUR. This is not the end, rather it is a new beginning.
My copy of the ZPZ DVD arrived today with TWO disc Twos & NO disc One. Has this happened to anyone else? What would be the best way to contact the ZFT to let them know of the error? — David
How’s that for a fuck-up? Foo-eee! As for me, I’ve yet to receive my copy of Zappa Wazoo (and Trance-Fusion, and The Dub Room Special CD; yes I’m a slow buyer), even though Barfko-Swill mailed me on November 2nd saying:
Your order has been shipped by IMEX STANDARD.
Apparently the “IMEX STANDARD shipping method” involves a detour via Ouagadougou, then Zimbabwe through to Machu Pichu via Saskatchewan — skipping Siberia, if you’re lucky. Oh and obviously my credit card has already been charged, regardless of whether I actually received the goodies.
What are your experiences with regard to ZFT/Barfko-Swill product delivery?
Hello and Welcome to the Fine Print!
killuglyradio.com is a community partly dedicated to Frank Zappa. We are non-profit and not in any way endorsed or connected with The Zappa Family Trust and/or Zappa.com. The Zappa Family Trust and Dweezil Zappa have no formal or informal association and in no way condone or support our efforts to further enhance knowledge of and appreciation of the many and vast talents of Frank Zappa. Any content related to FZ is nothing more than a fan's efforts to broaden the knowledge and appreciation of the many works of Frank Zappa. As such, any Zappa related content exists solely as an educational tool to help achieve that goal. Lest ye forget: lawyers are the scum of the earth. You might want to remember that.