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‘Electric Avenue’ Musician Seeks to Depose Trump Campaign Social Media Director About Using Song in Ad That Mocked Joe Biden

 

Dan Scavino

The musician behind the 1983 hit song “Electric Avenue” is looking to depose former President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff and campaign social media director Dan Scavino as part of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Singer Edmond “Eddy” Grant filed suit in Sept. 2020 in response to a viral 55-second animated clip on Trump’s then-Twitter account that mocked then-candidate Joe Biden. The clip ran afoul of copyright by including the song “Electric Avenue” without authorization, Grant said.

“’Infringing Video’ means the 55 second video contained in the Tweet from Mr. Trump’s Twitter account on August 12, 2020, at or about 9:35 p.m. EST, which contains a visual depiction of a red train bearing the words ‘Trump Pence KAG 2020’ and a handcar bearing the words ‘Biden President: Your Hair Smells Terrific’ being powered by an animated likeness of Former Vice President Biden,” court documents described the video.

Over the weekend, Grant’s legal team revealed more about its plans moving forward in the litigation.

Brett Van Benthysen, an attorney for the plaintiff, wrote a letter on Saturday asking U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl to grant an extension so Scavino could be served a subpoena to testify.

The letter began by noting that Trump himself was deposed in the case back on June 9.

“We write pursuant to Your Honor’s Individual Practices Rule I.E. to request a 45 day extension of the fact discovery end date currently scheduled for August 22, 2022. There have been two previous extensions for Defendants to locate and produce a corporate representative of Donald J. Trump For President, Inc., pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6), which were so ordered by the Court on June 14 (ECF Doc. No. 67) and July 13, 2022 (ECF Doc. No. 69). The extensions both followed President Trump’s deposition, which occurred on June 9, 2022,” the letter said.

The plaintiff’s lawyer said an extension is needed because the plaintiffs only recently learned of two key details.

“On August 16, 2022, for the first time, Defendants represented that they would not be able to locate a corporate representative to testify on behalf of the Company [Donald J. Trump For President, Inc.] and thus would not be producing a 30(b)(6) witness or witnesses to respond to Plaintiff’s deposition notice (a copy of which is attached hereto as Exhibit 1),” the letter said. “Then, on August 18, 2022, Defendants disclosed that the Company dissolved in October of 2021.”

As a result, the plaintiff argued, the judge should grant more time to seek Scavino’s testimony, especially considering he reportedly “frequently authored and/or reviewed Mr. Trump’s tweets and Defendants have represented that Mr. Scavino had a role in the alleged tweet containing the infringing video.”

Documents show that the plaintiff wants answers on the following topics related to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.:

1. Information concerning the Company’s involvement in Mr. Trump’s campaign to be re-elected as President of the United States in 2020.
2. Information concerning the Company’s access to Mr. Trump’s social media accounts, including Mr. Trump’s Twitter account.
3. Information concerning the Company’s control over Mr. Trump’s social media accounts, including Mr. Trump’s Twitter account.
4. Information concerning the Company’s contributions to the creation, production, and distribution of the Infringing Video.
5. Information concerning the Company’s contributions to the creation, production, and distribution of the Tweet.
6. Information concerning the Company’s decision to have Mr. Trump post the Tweet on his Twitter account.
7. Information concerning any due diligence performed by the Company concerning the copyright ownership of the Composition.
8. Information concerning any due diligence performed by the Company concerning the copyright ownership of the Recording.
9. Information concerning the Company’s receipt of the cease and desist letter dated August 13, 2020.
10. Information concerning the Company’s response to the cease and desist letter dated August 13, 2020.
11. Information concerning any financial or political benefit obtained by the Company from the creation, production, and/or distribution of the Tweet.
12. Information concerning any financial or political benefit obtained by the Company from the creation, production, and/or distribution of the Infringing Video.
13. Information concerning any communications between Company and any third party concerning the Tweet.
14. Information concerning any communications between Company and any third party concerning the Infringing Video.
15. Information concerning the identity of the custodians of documents produced by the Company in response to Plaintiff’s First Request for the Production of Documents.
16. Information concerning the location of the original versions of the documents produced by the Company in response to Plaintiff’s First Request for the Production of Documents.
17. Information concerning the organization structure of the Company from 2020 to the present.

Federal court records show that Judge Koeltl, a Bill Clinton appointee, on Monday granted the extension for time to complete discovery.

[image via Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the editor-in-chief of Law&Crime.