The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 January 2008

The barter of Seville

David Seville, that is.

It seems that in 1968, Ross Bagdasarian, who had created the David Seville persona for his own recordings in 1956 and kept it when he came up with the Chipmunks, sold the rights to the Chipmunks catalog — one hundred twelve recorded tracks — to Liberty Records for a flat fee, whereupon he retired and became a vintner. Capitol Records, which now owns the Liberty label, has had no qualms about exploiting the little rodents, and Bagdasarian Productions, now administered by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., understood that the rights to the recordings had been sold. In fact, Ross Jr., circa 1996, sold the characters themselves to Universal Pictures, which produced a bunch of direct-to-video stuff; four years later, he sued Universal for breach of contract and got the characters back.

Now it turns out that the deal with Liberty included only the rights to sell the original recordings at retail, not to license them to other media. Ross Jr. didn't know this; apparently he didn't discover the actual contract until last fall. And Bagdasarian Productions is now suing Capitol, claiming breach of contract. (Here's a copy of the complaint in PDF format.)

As David Seville himself once noted, "Oo ee, oo ah ah, ting tang, walla walla bing bang."

Posted at 7:41 PM to Almost Yogurt


Posted by: paulsmos at 10:57 AM on 20 January 2008 been keepin love with me just like I was a miser and I'll admit I wasn't very smart; but I went out and found myself a guy who's so much wiser and he taught me the way to win your heart..."

Oh yeah.

Posted by: fits at 8:12 PM on 20 January 2008