White Stripes facing lawsuit from Que. journalist
The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, February 5, 2008 10:31PM EST
MONTREAL - An eccentric Detroit rock band with a soft spot for Canada is facing a lawsuit from an irate Quebec journalist whose voice is on one of their tunes.
Former Radio-Canada host Dominique Payette was stunned to discover a 10-second clip of her interview with a little girl at the top of "Jumble, Jumble'' by the White Stripes.
She is suing the band, demanding $70,000 in damages and the removal of the album "De Stijl'' from store shelves.
The song begins with Payette and a little girl talking in French about something the child has experienced "for the first time.''
Ten seconds in, the guitar riff begins, leaving a mystery just what the girl had done, although there is nothing particularly suggestive about the song's lyrics.
Payette says the band used her interview without permission and out of context, giving the conversation a lewd overtone.
"This is a prepubescent child, and I don't like that little allusion,'' Payette said in an interview on Tuesday.
"She may have been talking about her first time planting a flower, or seeing Santa Claus. But when you're listening for the first time, I don't like the sexual connotation at all.''
A New York-based publicist for the band did not return phone calls Tuesday.
Payette, now a lecturer at Universite de Laval in Quebec City, says the band violated her privacy under Quebec law.
Quebec's Civil Code describes using a person's voice "for a purpose other than the legitimate information of the public'' as an invasion of privacy.
Payette said Radio-Canada decided against pursuing any action under copyright law.
It's unclear how the Detroit band would have come across the radio excerpt, but the duo of drummer Meg White and singer-guitarist Jack White has shown a soft spot for things Canadian in the past.
The group won the hearts of many Canadian rock fans last summer with an eccentric tour that took the band to all 10 provinces and the Far North.
Jack White said he'd always wanted to see the wild Canadian northern wilderness and he bragged about his family links to Nova Scotia and fiddlers Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster.
The duo also played a series of impromptu free concerts, including appearances staged on a Winnipeg transit bus, at a Saskatoon bowling alley, a Toronto day camp and a Halifax pool hall.
In 2000, at the time of the song's release, Payette was the host of a Radio-Canada children's call-in show called 275-Allo/Ados-Radio.
Payette says the girl would have been between six and 12 when she was talking about some first experience.
"What I really detested was how a child who innocently and trustingly called into a show was used in a way that was not at all what the child intended,'' Payette said.
"When you're faced with something like that, either you do something, or you do nothing. I wanted to see if the right exists to do that. I don't believe it does.''
Payette says she learned about the song in March 2007 from a listener, some seven years after it came out.
"Some people say, 'Everyone does that now.' It doesn't make sense to me,'' Payette said.
"I really feel like I was used by them.''