Monday, May 24, 2010

David Byrne sues Charlie Crist over use of 'Road to Nowhere' in campaign video

Here we go again. David Byrne has sued Florida Senate candidate Charlie Crist for using the 1985 Talking Heads hit "Road to Nowhere" in a YouTube video that promotes his campaign. Reports Billboard:
Byrne is seeking $1 million in damages from Gov. Charlie Crist, who's also Florida's former Attorney General, and his senatorial campaign for use of the song earlier this year in a website and YouTube ad attacking his then-Republican primary opponent, Marco Rubio. Crist has since changed his campaign and is running as an independent candidate.
Byrne tells that he became aware of the Crist ad from a friend in New York, where the Talking Heads co-founder resides. "I was pretty upset by that," says Byrne, who had Warner Bros. Records contact the Crist campaign, which subsequently stopped using the ad. But, Byrne contends, "in my opinion the damage had already been done by it being out there. People that I knew had seen (the ad), so it had gotten around. The suit, he adds, "is not about politics...It's about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for."
I'll post the complaint when I get my hands on it. Of note, Byrne's attorney is Larry Iser, who represented Jackson Browne in a similar suit against John McCain, the RNC, and the Ohio Republican Party based on a 2008 ORP web video that incorporated part of Browne's song "Running on Empty."

It won't surprise me if we see a dozen more lawsuits exactly like this one before November.

Update: Here's the complaint, which includes claims for direct and vicarious copyright infringement and a claim under Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, based on the theory that Crist's video falsely implied that Byrne endorsed Crist's Senate campaign.
David Byrne v. Charlie Crist Complaint


  1. "It won't surprise me if we see a dozen more lawsuits"

    About time that politicos realized that just because you have a message, doesn't give you a right to expropriate someone else's work to do so.

  2. I love reading about these frivolous angry lawsuits that go no where and do nothing but waste the court's time. So far my new favorite is still Subway's latest attempt to trademark the un-trademarkable:
    but this is close up there, too.

  3. Despite the obvious copyright infringement lawsuit that Crist should've seen coming Broward-Palm Beach New Times thinks he could've picked a better song to use. So they're offering up five more Talking Head songs that would've better fit his campaign.

    Check it out:

  4. Anon 12:02, why do you think this is frivolous when the plaintiffs have actually won these cases? You use someone's copyrighted work in an ad without permission, you are typically on the hook for copyright infringement. At this point, defending such a suit is much closer to frivolity than the bringing of the case.


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