Daft Punk and Contracting

Today’s post is going to be a tad shorter and more straightforward than the previous posts.  I am a big fan of The Colbert Report.  I am also a big fan of Daft Punk.  When I heard that Daft Punk was going to play “Get Lucky” (their current single) on Colbert yesterday, I was appropriately stoked.  Unfortunately, Daft Punk opted not to appear on the show at the last minute due to a contractual conflict with MTV.  Apparently Daft Punk agreed to a surprise appearance at the Video Music Awards (VMAs) and to not appear on any other shows in the meantime.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that this wasn’t just a giant publicity stunt to promote a Daft Punk appearance at the Video Music Awards (which I think is the likely reason for all of this).  What happened here?  Well, Daft Punk (or their booking agent) signed a contract with Viacom (who owns both Comedy Central and MTV) with certain terms and conditions.  Most of the time, these terms are pretty straightforward: in exchange for money, Daft Punk offered to perform at the VMAs.  This contract apparently included some other terms as well, one of which was a promise not to perform on other TV shows during the month of August.  Violating any of these terms places Daft Punk in breach of contract. 

Now, Daft Punk likely signed a similar contract when Colbert booked them.  Why would Daft Punk be in breach of one but not the other?  That’s hard to say without seeing the actual contract Daft Punk signed with MTV.  Presumably, the contract included a term prohibiting them from booking other TV performances in August, since their contract included a term prohibiting them from appearing on other shows.  The very act of getting booked by Colbert may have resulted in breach.  As a result, Daft Punk had to opt against playing on The Colbert Report (which is a shame).  Viacom may have negotiated some kind of settlement (allowing Colbert to do a whole sketch set to “Get Lucky”) as accord and satisfaction (where a party agrees that a different term meets the requirements of the contract, and discharges the old term).  In that situation, allowing Colbert to play “Get Lucky” was a substitution for the live performance and fulfilled the contract.

The moral of the story?  Always make sure you read what you sign.  It makes life a lot easier in the long run.


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