Waits settles soundalike dispute


Singer Tom Waits has settled a German lawsuit that claimed an automaker and ad agency violated his rights by imitating him in TV commercials, his lawyer said Friday.

The suit was resolved "recently" in a state court in Frankfurt, Germany, but the settlement required other details be kept confidential, attorney Kevin Marks said.

Waits will donate the "net settlement proceeds" to charity, Marks said.

"I'm glad to be out of the car sales business once and for all," Waits said in a statement issued on Thursday.

The gravel-voiced singer sued Adam Opel AG, which is part of General Motors Corp., and the advertising firm McCann Erickson in 2005 on grounds that his personality rights had been violated.

"Apparently the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad -- ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car. I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor," Waits said in a statement issued at the time. "While the court can't make me active in radio, I am asking it to make me radioactive to advertisers."

Waits, who has a policy of not doing commercials, claimed that a singer imitating his voice and style appeared on the soundtrack for Opel ads that aired in Scandinavia after he turned down several offers to do the commercials.

Opel said the music was a Brahms composition and wasn't intended to mimic Waits.

However, the ad music was later changed.

In 1992, Waits was awarded $2.5 million in damages from Frito-Lay after successfully arguing that another singer was hired to imitate his voice for a Doritos corn chip commercial.

In the early '90s, he filed several lawsuits against his previous record label, Third Story Music. He alleged, among other things, that Third Story reneged on a contract by allowing two of his songs to used in TV commercials overseas.