Okay, Now A Survivor Member Really Did Sue Mike Huckabee For Using 'Eye Of The Tiger' At Kim Davis Rally

from the the-prophecy-came-true dept

Hey, remember that time I was thoroughly fooled by two hoax sites into reporting that Survivor band members had filed a copyright suit against Mike Huckabee for using Eye of the Tiger at that gross rally for Kim Davis? And remember my simpering excuse, suggesting that copyright as it stands today makes it difficult to separate the absurd from the fake? Well, suck it, universe, because now that Survivor's Frank Sullivan really has filed a copyright lawsuit against Huckabee for using the song at the rally, I am now claiming that instead of being the victim of a hoax, I'm actually some kind of prophetic modern-day Nostradamus.

Sullivan, one of the founding members of the band Survivor, is co-author of the song "Eye of the Tiger," the theme song for the movie "Rocky III." His company, Rude Music, co-owns the rights to Sullivan's songs, court records show. Rude Music sued Huckabee for President Inc. in Federal Court, claiming the Republican presidential candidate used "Eye of the Tiger" without permission at a campaign stop.
The suit itself goes to great lengths to position Huckabee and his campaign staff as a group that really should know better than to use music during the campaign without permission from the artists. After pointing out that this isn't the first such instance of Huckabee facing backlash over the use of music by artists that don't support him, it points out:
Huckabee for President’s infringement of “Eye of the Tiger” is willful. Mr. Huckabee is sophisticated and knowledgeable concerning the copyright laws, both as a private individual and media-savvy business owner. According to the records of the United States Copyright Office, Mr. Huckabee is the author or co-author of more than a dozen copyrighted works. Mr. Huckabee operated television stations in Arkansas, and for years he has hosted political commentary shows on the radio and on Fox News. Mr. Huckabee is himself a musician whose band, Capitol Offense, has performed at political and other public events; in 2007, Mr. Huckabee received a Music for Life Award from the National Association of Music Merchants. Moreover, Huckabee for President has a legal team.
That last bit is my favorite. What's not mentioned in the filing is any reference to any performance licenses the Huckabee campaign must certainly have purchased for music. That's likely to become the central issue, as all major campaigns purchases these licenses to cover rallies (and many venues separately have their own PRO licenses anyway -- though it's doubtful the jail did here) and typically complaints from artists go nowhere because of them. What may make this suit different is whether or not Huckabee can bill the Kim Davis rally as an official campaign stop, where the license would apply. It seems to strain credulity to suggest that the release of a third person from jail somehow qualifies as any kind of official campaign stop, but then again the suit specifically is targeting Huckabee for President, Inc., rather than Huckabee himself, which might muddy the waters a bit.

Either way, as we've said before, it would be trivially easy for campaigns to just clear musical choices with artists first to avoid these dustups. Even if they're not legally required to do so, it's the easiest solution.

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Filed Under: copyright, eye of the tiger, frank sullivan, kim davis, mike huckabee, pro license, survivor

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  1. icon
    JMT (profile), 19 Nov 2015 @ 3:58pm

    "Either way, as we've said before, it would be trivially easy for campaigns to just clear musical choices with artists first to avoid these dustups. Even if they're not legally required to do so, it's the easiest solution."

    Asking "permission" doesn't actually solve anything though, because the artist can't prevent legal use of their music. If a politician feels that a particular song reflects the way they feel or the image they want to project, they're free to pay their money and play it to their heart's content.

    Artists might not like it, and they're free to express that opinion, but the same copyright laws that they claim are indispensable for artistic creation allow their music to be used this way. Live by the copyright sword, die by the copyright sword.

    That's not to say using an artist's music against their wishes is a smart political or PR move. It's not, it's dumb. It's just not illegal.

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