Eddy Grant is suing the Trump Administration over the use of his karaoke classic “Electric Avenue” in a campaign video posted on August 12. The video was taken down by Twitter in response to the copyright infringement claim.
The electro-pop hit was originally released in 1983 by Portrait Records. It’s about a poor man who can’t afford life’s luxuries and wishes he could feed the kids on the street. Grant was active from the late 70’s to the early 90’s, mostly sticking to pop reggae.
In the Trump Administration’s video, an animation depicted a Trump-branded train passing through a town while political opponent Joe Biden followed on a handcar. Biden’s appearance is the part of the video soundtracked by an excerpt of “Electric Avenue.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2020
Grant’s attorney Brian Caplan believes this is a clear case of copyright infringement, “This is copyright 101. You need to have a license and nobody in his campaign with a straight face could say he has the absolute right to do this.” Caplan reportedly issued a cease-and-desist weeks ago to have the video removed, and filed the follow-up lawsuit Tuesday, September 1.
Asides from the destruction of the video, Grant is demanding $150,000 of damages, an injunction and lawyer’s fees. Caplan explained, “Eddy stands for peace and justice, and this ad is not consistent with the ideals Eddy has stood for and sung about for years.”
This isn’t the first time the Trump Administration used a song without asking permission. Leonard Cohen’s condemnation of Trump’s use of “Hallelujah” came out just a few days ago. Earlier in August, Neil Young sued over the use of some of his songs, including “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk.” Many others have had their songs infringed before them, including Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose, The Village People’s Victor Willis, Ozzy Osbourne and the estates of Tom Petty and Prince.