Friday, July 18, 2008

Long Term Thinking

Today I had a conference call with some Glenfiddich staff to determine the legalities of the project, including a very helpful and insightful staff lawyer named Andrew. We worked through most of the potential problems and determined that nothing was insurmountable and that we could move forward, tentatively. We will have to have a substantial disclaimer/contract, but it occurred to me that this could actually improve the work. It can be a large framed document to accompany the barrel and edition and can serve as a means to tell the various stories I’ve been learning about whiskey production and law. In that way it will resemble a piece I exhibited last year called The Brown Sound (Lend Me Your Ears), which was a saleable proposition, but existed mostly as a way to share some stories.

I realized on the phone that lawyers are in a somewhat unique position of having to talk like it’s the 1500’s (composing contracts with archaic terms like hereto and wherefore) while thinking about the future. Much of our conversation centred around what laws might exist regarding the sale of spirits in one hundred years time. Will taxation be more or less than it is now? Will 40% still be the defining level of alcohol? Will there be prohibition? Lawyers have to imagine every possible future outcome.

This reminded me of some record contracts I had seen in the past. They very cleverly claimed the rights to distribute the songs on vinyl, cassette, and compact disk, as well as any other as-yet-determined future media. They also staked claim to distribution rights on other planets, just in case before the contracts expired we had populated the moon and the residents there wanted to hear some Rolling Stones.

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