Saturday, February 21, 2009

Court declines to dismiss Jackson Browne's suit against John McCain

A federal court in Los Angeles has declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed last August by Jackson Browne over use of the song "Running on Empty" in a web video produced by the Ohio Republican Party. Browne sued John McCain, the ORP, and the Republican National Committee for copyright infringement, and for alleged violations of his rights under the Lanham Act and California's common law right of publicity. The court denied McCain's and the RNC's motions to dismiss the copyright and Lanham Act claims, as well as their motions to strike Browne's right of publicity claim. The court did grant the ORP's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction over the ORP in California. A scheduling conference has been set for April 20.

The McCain campaign released the following statement through its outside counsel Lincoln Bandlow:
The McCain campaign is disappointed that the Court declined to dismiss Jackson Browne's suit about the Ohio Republican Party's political video, despite the fact that the Court found that Browne's claims arise out of protected speech activity under California's Anti-SLAPP statute and that the evidence was undisputed that Senator McCain "played no part in the creation or dissemination" of the video. But it is important to keep in mind that the Court has not yet ruled on the merits of the case, which we will continue to vigorously contest. We intend to seek immediate review of the Court's orders in the Ninth Circuit.
The briefs can be found here. A declaration by the ORP Communications Director explaining the circumstances under which he made and disseminated the video is here.

(Disclosure: I have participated in Senator McCain's defense of this case.)