Saturday, April 18, 2009

Henley sues DeVore over use of songs in campaign videos

Last Tuesday I blogged about the adventures of California GOP Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, who has made several "parody" song videos as part of his campaign against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). I can't say I'm at all surprised to learn that Don Henley, whose "The Boys of Summer" and "All She Wants to Do is Dance" DeVore used in his videos, has filed a copyright lawsuit. Reports CNN:
Don Henley, a founding member of "The Eagles," is suing a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, claiming the candidate is misusing two of his popular songs.

The suit filed Friday in federal court in California claims Charles DeVore is using Henley's hit songs "The Boys of Summer" and "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" without authorization.

The suit comes from two campaign videos that DeVore posted on YouTube that used Henley's music, according to the lawsuit.

In one of the videos, DeVore's campaign changed the words of "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" to lyrics that attacked Sen. Barbara Boxer, the lawsuit alleges.

Mike Campbell, Henley's producer, is also named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"Don Henley and Mike Campbell brought this action to protect their song, 'The Boys of Summer,' which was taken and used without their permission," Henley's spokesman said. "The infringers have vowed to continue exploiting this and other copyrighted works, as it suits them, to further their own ambitions and agenda. It was necessary to file a lawsuit to stop them."

I'm trying to locate a copy of the complaint and will post it as soon as I do. UPDATE: here it is.


  1. From the DeVore campaign:

    The campaign will have an official response on Monday.

    Please note, Assemblyman DeVore wrote entirely new lyrics and used them to poke fun at both Don Henley and President Obama. The track used to create the song was a purchased karaoke track and not performed by Henley. This form of free speech using both parody and satire is a protected form of free speech as per rulings from our federal court system. Further, parody was used for a political and not a commercial purpose, this bolsters our claim. We expect to prevail in court. What we did is nothing more or less than what the musical political satire group The Capitol Steps has been doing for over 20 years and they have yet to pay any royalties.

    Please see: Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music"

  2. To the campaign:

    Thank you for your comment. If you have a copy of the complaint, I would appreciate it if you would email it to me at Thank you.

  3. Perhaps Anon 3:13 should read Campbell a little more closely. There, the Court mentions:

    "If ... the commentary has no critical bearing on the substance or style of the original composition, which the alleged infringer merely uses to get attention or to avoid the drudgery in working up something fresh, the claim to fairness in borrowing from another diminishes accordingly (if it does not vanish entirely) and other factors ... loom larger."

    Having read the lyrics to each video, I can't make a cogent argument that they qualify as parody. Because both compositions are squarely directed at people and events outside of the copyrighted work (President Obama and Senator Boxer, respectively), I don't believe they can reasonably be said to comment or criticize the underlying work. This would make them satire, and thus substantially complicate any fair use argument.

  4. I was thinking of suing Henley. Not for infringement so much as because I hate the Eagles.

  5. To MGP:

    You are in excellent company:


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