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A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by Don Henley and two other musicians against California senatorial candidate Chuck DeVore over use of the songs “Boys of Summer” and “All She Wants to Do is Dance” in campaign spots posted to YouTube.
An undisclosed amount of money has changed hands, but perhaps most importantly, Devore is saying he’s sorry for taking the songs and re-writing the lyrics in his campaign spots.
“We apologize for using the musical works of Don Henley, Mike Campbell and Danny Kortchmar without respect for their rights under copyright law,” DeVore said in a statement. “The court’s ruling in this case confirms that political candidates, regardless of affiliation, should seek appropriate license authority before they use copyrighted works.”
The admission is a remarkable turn from a candidate who adamantly insisted for many months that his use of Henley’s songs was “fair use.” In the case, DeVore argued that he specifically picked Henley’s songs to target Hollywood affection for liberal candidates and causes. In June, a federal judge disagreed with the assessment, saying the use was more akin to satire than parody, and ruling that DeVore had violated Henley’s copyrights.
The war of words between the two sides became rather heated and now DeVore is also saying sorry for some of the characterizations made against the singer.
“We regret all inaccurate, derogatory or disparaging remarks made about Mr. Henley during the course of this dispute,” says DeVore.
DeVore follows John McCain in having to offer an embarrassing apology for unauthorized use of music in campaign commercials posted to YouTube. Last year, the former Republican candidate for President settled and then issued an apology to Jackson Browne over use of the song, “Running on Empty.”
The latest settlement ends one of the most high-profile disputes between musicians and politicians, but there are other cases still outstanding.
Earlier in the week, Florida senatorial candidate Charlie Crist rebutted a lawsuit by Talking Heads singer David Byrne over use of the song, “Road to Nowhere” by laying blame on a consultant and questioning whether there was really any damage to the singer.
Copyright claims have been also made against other politicians running for office this year, including one from Canadian band Rush against Kentucky senatorial candidate Rand Paul.
Some of the animosity stems from liberal-leaning musicians who don’t wish to be associated with conservative politicians. Also a factor in these disputes is candidates doing their best to create cheap web-only commercials that leverage music in hopes of going viral. Many politicians believed they enjoyed special First Amendment protection on political speech, but there now seems to be a growing acknowledgment about the sanctity of copyrights — or at very least, a realization that the fight isn’t worth pursuing through an expensive appeals process.
In June, Chuck DeVore lost the Republican nomination for the California senate seat to Carly Fiorina.
UPDATE: Copyrights & Campaigns has Henley’s thoughts on the settlement. The singer calls it a “moral victory” and makes some intriguing comments blasting unauthorized uses of music by both politicians and amateurs in remixes, mash-ups, and other videos posted on YouTube.
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