President Donald Trump and his re-election campaign are facing a new copyright infringement lawsuit from the musician behind the 1983 hit “Electric Avenue.” The suit claims Trump illegally used the song in a widely viewed campaign video that disparaged Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden last month.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) by British singer Edmond “Eddy” Grant, stems from an animated video that’s garnered well over 13 million views across various social media platforms. The 54-second clip portrays a cartoon train emblazoned with the slogans “KAG 2020” (Keep America Great) and “Trump Pence” moving swiftly through a snowy townscape. After the train roars through the town, “Electric Avenue” plays alongside an assortment of embarrassing Biden audio clips as an old-time handcar is manually pumped along the tracks by a cartoon rendering of the former vice president. The handcar bears the words “Biden President: Your Hair Smells Terrific.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2020
Grant, who wrote, recorded, and produced the song in response to the 1981 Brixton riots in London, alleged that Trump and his campaign have “financially and politically benefitted” from the video without authorization to use the copyrighted tune.
“Defendants have infringed and continue to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights in the Composition and the Recording by creating, producing, distribution, promoting, advertising, performing by means of digital audiovisual transmission, and otherwise commercially exploiting the Infringing Video, and/or authorizing others to do the same, without Plaintiffs’ authority or consent,” the lawsuit stated.
The suit asked a federal judge to declare that Trump and his campaign have willfully and intentionally infringed upon the song’s copyright, and to order an immediate injunction to prevent “any further publication, distribution, electronic transmission or other commercial exploitation” of the infringing work.
One day after the video was posted to social media last month, Grant’s attorney Wallace Collins issued a cease and desist letter to the president’s campaign, saying that his Grant’s reputation would suffer “substantial damage and irreparable harm” by being associated with Trump.
“My client has always had a reputation of standing for truth and justice for all, which will be seriously undermined by any affiliation with the name ‘Trump’ in this political context,” the letter stated.
Grant himself also called out Trump in a statement on his Instagram account.
“I call upon such arbiter, as is responsible for this sordid abuse, to come forward like a man and let’s sort this thing out, in the way that America demands when such issues are to be sorted, especially when they are wrong,” he said. “Mr. Trump, I am calling on you. You are the final arbiter and I await the word from you.”
Read the full lawsuit below:
[image via Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images]
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