This parody (written by Greg Crowther) is sung to the tune of
Jacqueline Steiner and Bess Lomax Hawes
and performed by
The Kingston Trio).
This song is loosely based on real-life experiences with
Material Transfer Agreements, commonly called MTAs, which govern the sharing of
confidential materials such as chemical compounds.
In the original "M.T.A." song (M.T.A. standing for Metropolitan Transit Authority in that case),
a rider named Charlie is confused by the complicated pricing system and
cannot leave the subway because he lacks the money to pay the exit fare. In my version,
it's the compounds that get trapped in transportation limbo due to legal complications.
Let me tell you a story
Of proprietary compounds
Produced by a pharma company;
They were made for treating cancer,
And the ones that weren't effective
Were offered to a university.
The profs were eager
To begin their research
On the compound set right away,
But the lawyers said, "Stop!
Your naivete is charming,
But you must sign an MTA."
So they drew up a contract
Of twenty-seven pages,
Written in a very formal style
And covering everything
From authorship of patents
To the naming of a first-born child.
The pharma guys thought
That the MTA was finished,
So they mailed the vials to the profs,
But the people at the U.
Hadn't checked the final wording
And could not accept the vials that were dropped off.
Did they ever return?
No, they never returned,
And their fate is still unlearned.
They may ride forever
In a FedEx package;
They're the compounds that never returned.
Now the research labs
At the U. are quiet
As the profs still await their supplies,
And every couple weeks
An email tells them
That the MTA is nearly finalized.
But the lawyers at the U.
Say it's premature
To pay the delivery price,
So the courier waits
With the box a little longer,
Adding more and more and more dry ice.