Crist, Byrne settle lawsuit over campaign song
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has settled a lawsuit filed by Talking Heads singer David Byrne after Crist used one of the group’s songs without permission in a campaign ad last year, both parties confirmed Monday.
Terms of the settlement were not released, but it included a recorded apology by Crist that was posted on YouTube Monday afternoon. Byrne had sued Crist for $1 million for using the song “Road to Nowhere” in a YouTube video attacking Marco Rubio, one of the governor’s opponents in the U.S. Senate race.
Crist said Monday that he was pleased with the terms of the settlement and that Byrne “couldn’t have been a better guy” when they met last week to mediate the case.
“As I told him, I was sorry it ever happened at all,” Crist said. “He couldn’t have been more of a gentleman about it.”
Crist and the advertising agency that made the video have blamed each other for not seeking permission to use the song.
In a statement Monday, Byrne said he was shocked to discover that the unauthorized use of songs for political ads is “pretty rampant.”
“It turns out I am one of the few artists who has the bucks and (guts) to challenge such usage. I’m feeling very manly after my trip to Tampa!” Byrne’s statement said. “Other artists may actually have the anger but not want to take the time and risk the legal bills. I am lucky that I can do that. Anyway, my hope is that by standing up to this practice maybe it can be made to be a less common option, or better yet an option that is never taken in the future.”
In the YouTube apology, a serious-looking Crist reads from a statement saying that he doesn’t condone “any actions taken by anyone in the Senate campaign that were inconsistent with David Byrne’s rights or any other artist’s rights.”
“I pledge that, should there be any future election campaigns for me, I will respect and uphold the rights of artists and obtain permission or a license for the use of any copyrighted work,” Crist said.
Rubio, who ultimately won the election, also ran into trouble over the use of a copyrighted song in a campaign ad. He was called out after using the Steve Miller Band’s 1976 song “Take the Money and Run” in a YouTube video attacking Crist, but Rubio was not sued.
Byrne was represented by Lawrence Iser, who sued on behalf of singer Jackson Browne when Republican presidential candidate John McCain and the Ohio Republican Party used the song “Running on Empty” without permission in the 2008. The party and McCain apologized.
“This settlement again confirms that the U.S. copyright and trademark laws apply to politicians and their advertising agencies, just like everyone else,” Iser said Monday.
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