A disgruntled Quebec radio journalist who is suing the White Stripes for a ten-second sample they used on an album apparently without permission wants albums pulled from the shelves, Canadian news outlet CTV.ca reported today.

The album is De Stijl, the band’s second, released eight years ago. The song is “Jumble, Jumble,” and the sample in question is a segment of an interview in which the journalist, former Radio-Canada host Dominique Payette, interviews a little girl in French about her first time doing something. The sample leaves it wide open as to exactly what the little girl did for the first time, but you can imagine what the implication is.

Payette is suing the band for $70,000 and trying to have the album pulled from store racks, saying that the use of her interview sample is a violation of her privacy. Before you laugh out loud at the fact that we’re talking about a broadcasted radio show, I should point out that by Quebec Civil Code, using a person’s voice “for a purpose other than the legitimate information of the public” is an invasion of privacy. By Quebec standards, Payette might have a case.

Fortunately for the Stripes, in the U.S., scrawny-necked, diaper-peeing whiners who try to jab fingers at the boulder-crushing Goliath entertainment industry are usually slurped up into its huge, cast-iron gears and flattened against the scarred mortar face of the First Amendment. If 2 Live Crew can blatantly rip Roy Orbison and P-Diddy can have a music career at all, it’s been demonstrated that American musicians can more or less do anything they want, as long as they claim it’s art.

It’s a little saddening, then, that Payette, who heard about the sample from a listener seven years later, seems to be arguing out of genuine concern rather than greed.

“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 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.”

However, as CTV.ca points out, the song does not provide any sexual connotation: the sample plays unaccompanied for a few seconds at its opening before the guitar slaps it out of existence, and the lyrics aren’t exactly lifted from the bathroom stall wall. It’s the lack of connotation that theoretically leads to lewd thoughts in listeners – which should probably raise less concern about the band’s intentions and more concern about the mental state of the current generation of listeners. Oh, then there’s the fact that it’s in French.

Most likely, Payette will have to take comfort in a little white-striped check when this case settles out of court.

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