Agencies Face Musical Lawsuits

Two Midwest agencies are defending themselves against lawsuits filed on the West Coast that charge them with using music for TV spots without permission.
Fallon McElligott in Minneapolis and its client BMW North America were named in a lawsuit filed by the EMI Group. It alleges that Fallon used a variation of the song “Keep Hope Alive” by The Crystal Method. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the company’s U.S. subsidiary, EMI Virgin Music, in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Separately, Leapnet in Chicago has been sued by Crystal Jukebox, which charges the company’s Leap Partnership ad agency used the song “Natural High” by Bloodstone in a commercial for Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob without permission.
Leap has been through this before, having gone to court in June 1997 over charges it unlawfully used the song “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors in a 1995 spot for Miller Brewing’s Miller Lite Ice.
A jury ruled in favor of the band and its music company, prompting the agency and co-defendant Miller to reach a confidential settlement before compensation could be determined. Reports on the settlement ranged from $5 million to $11 million.
Fallon officials declined to comment on the EMI lawsuit, saying it is agency policy not to talk about pending litigation. Officials with Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based BMW North America also declined comment.
Likewise, Leapnet officials and those with Anheuser-Busch would say nothing about the lawsuit. K