Thursday, June 3, 2010

Another GOP Candidate Bested by Rock Star in Copyright Suit

The Hollywood Reporter ( reports that a 32-page tentative decision by U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Judge James Selna holds that Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate Charles DeVore infringed on the copyright of two songs by Don Henley, former front man of  '70s rock band, The Eagles, in political video ads that appeared on YouTube.

DeVore, who is running against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer, ran a campaign ad featuring a song "All She Wants to Do Is Tax," based on Henley's All She Wants to Do Is Dance, and a second video boasting the song "After the Hope of November Is Gone," drawn from Henley's The Boys of Summer. Henley, 62, a rocker and political activist behind the Walden Woods Project (1990), filed suit--Don Henley & Mike Campbell v. Charles S. DeVore & Justin Hart (Case No. SACV-09-0481)--alleging infringement under the Copyright Act [17 U.S.C. sec. 101 et seq], as well as  asserting claims under the Lanham Act [15 U.S.C. sec. 1051 et seq] and unfair business practices under the California Business & Professions Code [sec. 17200 et seq.].

Reportedly, the tentative decision rejects DeVore's First Amendment fair use argument as a basis for using Henley's tunes.  Critical to the decision is whether DeVore's YouTube efforts of rewriting lyrics to Henley's copyrighted songs fall into the category of parody or satire.  Satire (which the late Broadway comic playwright George S. Kaufman once defined as "what closes on Saturday night") makes fun of something else, whereas parody takes jibes at the original work and generally has a higher success rate as a defense in copyright cases.

Judge Selna's order allegedly characterizes both campaign ad songs as satire and finds DeVore willfully infringed on Henley's work. Reportedly, Judge Selna rejected Henley's Lanham Act count alleging that the DeVore ads falsely implied the rocker's endorsement of the candidate.

For GOP candidates, who have witnessed Sen. John McCain get tweaked by Jackson Browne (see "TUOL" post 7/21/09) and Gov. Charlie Crist run afoul of David Byrne (see "TUOL" post 5/26/10), it may be time to, borrowing from Henley's discography, Take It Easy, lest they find themselves copyright Desperado(s) One of These Nights.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment