Sunday, May 19, 2024

Remember “Electric Avenue”? Judge Declines to Dismiss Lawsuit Against Donald Trump Brought by Singer Eddy Grant for Using Record in Campaign Commercial


Loser, loser, loser. Donald Trump is a loser all the time.

United State District Judge John G. Koeltl has now ruled against Trump and his campaign for using Eddy Grant’s hit record, “Electric Avenue” without Grant’s permission in campaign commercial.

Grant and his publishing company sued the Trump campaign for copyright infringement. The campaign made a motion to dismiss. Judge Koeltl denied it.

Grant can move forward. He’s using top intellectual property lawyer Brian Caplan of Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLP, who will eat Trump and his people for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The judge writes in his opinion, issued yesterday: “On August 12, 2020, at or about 9:35 p.m., former PresidentĀ  Trump published a Tweet from his personal Twitter account containing a fifty-five-second animated video. TheĀ  video endorsed former President Trump’s 2020 presidential reelection campaign and sought to denigrate the Democratic
Party’s 2020 presidential nominee, now-President Joseph R. Biden. The video begins with a depiction of a high-speed red train bearing the words “Trump Pence KAG [Keep
America Great] 2020.”

“After the red train passes, the beginning of
Electric Avenue can be heard clearly, along with an excerpt of a
speech by President Biden. Around the same time, a slow-moving
handcar, operated by an animated likeness of President Biden,
comes into view bearing the words “Biden President: Your Hair
Smells Terrific.” The video~in particular the contrast
between the trains and the unflattering nature of the excerpted
language from PresidentĀ Biden~appears intended to criticize
President Biden and depict the strength of former President
Trump’s campaign. Grant’s song can be heard beginning at around
the fifteen-second mark of the video, and continues through the
duration of the fifty-five second video. “

The Trump campaign said their use of “Electric Avenue” was fair use. The court said no, loudly. The judge wrote:

“The defendants did not receive a license or Grant’s
permission to use the song in connection with the animated
video. In fact, one day after the Tweet was
published, Grant advised the defendants by letter about the
defendants’ perceived unauthorized use of Grant’s copyrights,
and demanded that the defendants cease and desist from further
infringing conduct.

“The creator of the video here made a wholesale copy of a
substantial portion of Grant’s music in order to make the
animation more entertaining. The video did not parody the music
or transform it in any way. The video’s overarching political
purpose does not automatically make this use transformative, and
the other fair use factors also favor the plaintiffs at this
stage. Accordingly, the defendants have failed to demonstrate
fair use as a matter of law. The defendants may reassert their
fair use defense at the summary judgment stage when there is a
more developed factual record.”

The “Electric Avenue” lawsuit is just one of many involving Trump and his flagrant disregard of copyright law. He’s used dozens of songs without permission, just raising the ire of the artists, the copyright holders, and the fans of the artists involved.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News