Musician David Byrne sues Florida governor over campaign song

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

David Byrne performing in concert in 2009.
Image: livepict.com.

David Byrne, the former lead singer of 1980s art punk band Talking Heads, is suing Florida governor Charlie Crist over the latter's use of the Talking Heads song "Road to Nowhere" in an election commercial. Byrne alleges that Crist made use of the song in a campaign commercial without the artist's permission, and that if permission had been asked Byrne would have declined it.

Byrne told the BBC that the lawsuit, in which the musician is claiming $1 million in damages, is "not about politics, it's about copyright". In his personal blog, though, Byrne commented: "Besides being theft, use of the song and my voice in a campaign ad implies that I, as writer and singer of the song, might have granted Crist permission to use it, and that I therefore endorse him and/or the Republican Party, of which he was a member until very, very recently." Governor Crist is running for election to the United States Senate as an independent.

The lawsuit was filed early Monday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa and has been assigned Case Number 8:10-CV1187-T26 (MAP). Byrne is represented by Lawrence Iser, the attorney who represented Jackson Browne when Browne successfully sued John McCain in a similar lawsuit in 2008.

The advertisement, which premiered on January 12, 2010 and has since been withdrawn from use, attacked politician Marco Rubio over reversals in Rubio's public positions. The video has been blocked on video hosting site YouTube "due to a copyright claim by Warner Music Group."

Governor Crist's campaign had no comment on the lawsuit.


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