Carter claims director 'stole' his music

One of New Zealand's most awarded and celebrated musicians is embroiled in a fierce spat with the award-winning director of one of his music videos.

Shayne Carter. Photo: supplied
Shayne Carter. Photo: supplied
Shayne P. Carter, the former frontman of 'Dunedin sound' heroes Straitjacket Fits and founder of Dimmer, is claiming that Auckland filmmaker Kezia Barnett released a music video for his song I Know Not Where I Stand against his wishes, using an international "loophole" to make the video public and then enlisted lawyers to "demand" he promote the video.

Carter, who now releases music under his own name, told The New Zealand Herald that Barnett has stolen his intellectual property.

"Despicably she's framed it as though I've endorsed it," he said.

Detailing the situation on the Dimmer Facebook page, Carter said he agreed to make the music video with Barnett last year, but three weeks before shooting, Barnett changed the concept from what was initially discussed.

"I gave her license to see through her vision, figuring if I didn't like it I had the artistic right to say no," Carter wrote. "To cut a long story short - I didn't like the video."

After being told that Carter did not want to use the video Barnett's response was "to harass me via a lawyer for a year with a series of threats".

"She demanded I not only release her video but I promote it," he wrote. "Amongst their most ludicrous suggestions was that they would send me a promotions schedule where I was supposed to go out and promote this woman and her work even though her video sucked."

But Kezia Barnett said today that many efforts were made to resolve the situation.

"Numerous offers were made including to re-edit or re-shape [the video] it in a way that made him comfortable, which he didn't take up."

In the lengthy post, Carter said that he did not have the money to fight the release of the video.

"I'm a musician… I can't afford thousands and thousands of dollars while lawyers act out an expensive w*** fest. Presumably knowing this, the filmmaker went and released the video."

Carter says he asked his record label Flying Nun for support in the matter but was told that as he hadn't signed distribution rights with them, it was not their responsibility.

When contacted by the Herald, Flying Nun's director Ben Howe said that the label was on Carter's side and had gone in to bat for him.

"Shayne is totally right. Without his clear permission, the video should not have been posted. It is his art and music, so should be up to him how it is used," he said.

"We received legal advice that this was a breach of Shayne's copyright and it was communicated more than once to the video director, their lawyer as well as the online platforms where the video had been posted."

Carter also claims to have seen correspondence Barnett sent to NZ On Air defending her position.

"She also harassed NZ On Air daily. I've seen some of the correspondence and the theme seems to be that Carter is being unreasonable and NZ On Air is apologising to the filmmaker."

NZ On Air's Head of Music David Ridler told the Herald that the situation was upsetting.

"We are very saddened by a creative dispute between two talented individuals. We have no further comment as we are unable to involve ourselves in editorial content."

A video description on YouTube, posted by Barnett, reads: "When Shayne Carter approached Kezia Barnett to make a film to accompany his mesmerising single 'I Know Not Where I Stand', together they decided to make a haunting and visually disorienting piece of work."

An aggrieved Carter said: "It's about her stealing my music, my integrity and my credibility while seeking her personal vainglory. I've done this long enough to not have to walk down the street forced to wear someone else's clothes."

STATEMENT FROM KEZIA BARNETT

Kezia Barnett is the winner of Music Video of the Year 2006 at the Juice TV Awards and the 2005 Young Director of the Year 2005 at The Kodak Gongs. 

In a statement today she said:

"Shayne Carter approached me to make a video for his song ‘I Know Not Where I Stand’, and I organised the public funding from NZ on Air, took on the contractual liability and put in a significant amount of personal money, as Shayne was not able to pay the artist’s contribution. I did this because Shayne had told me he couldn’t afford a video and I wanted to help him out. Usually the cost and liability would lie with the musician.

"Shayne was involved with and very happy with the video right through its months-long development. Every development of the idea was passed by Shayne for approval and he approved the cut - making only a couple of tweaks - leaving the edit thanking me. This was followed up with emails with notes such as ‘looking great Kezia’. We went ahead and did the post-production work based on this approval.

"The cast and crew made the video for a fraction of their normal fee, and part of their payment is to see their work released.

"At the point it was ready for release, and without explanation, Shayne informed us he no longer liked the video. We then made numerous offers including to re-edit or re-shape it in a way that made him comfortable, which he didn't take up. He refused to engage with any productive solution.

"It's extremely disappointing to see he ultimately decided to air his issues on social media, including the publication of several untruths and inaccuracies."

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