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Survivor man sues Mike Huckabee over song use

By | Published on Thursday 19 November 2015

Frankie Sullivan

Survivor’s Frankie Sullivan has reportedly gone legal over US presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s use of his hit ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ at a political rally back in September.

As previously reported, the Huckabee campaign used the Survivor track to introduce Kim Davis to the stage, like some kind of war hero, at a September rally in Kentucky. Davis, of course, is the Kentucky county clerk who spent six days in prison for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licences.

At the time, Sullivan took to Facebook to declare: “NO! We did not grant Kim Davis any rights to use my tune ‘The Eye Of The Tiger’. I would not grant her the rights to use Charmin!”

According to the Associated Press, Sullivan’s company Rude Music filed a lawsuit against Huckabee in connection to the September rally yesterday. Specifics of the legal claim are not yet known, but it is thought the musician is seeking both damages and an injunction banning Huckabee from ever using the song in public again.

As much previously noted, while many an artist has expressed frustration or outrage at their music being used by politicians at rallies, it’s debatable whether there is anything said artists can do under copyright law, providing such rallies secure the right licenses from performing rights organisations like BMI and ASCAP. And those societies usually provide blanket licences, so no explicit permission is required to play specific songs in public.

Though when Donald Trump made use of an Aerosmith track at his rallies, Steven Tyler’s lawyer Dina LaPolt came up with various reasons why said usage might still infringe her client’s rights, in a cease and desist letter sent to the American presidential race’s comedy candidate. Trump backed down though, so Tyler never actually went legal on the issue.

It seems unlikely any political candidate would ever fight a lawsuit of this kind – who wants a public battle with a popstar? – so it seems unlikely we’ll ever get clarity on all this through the courts. Though it will still be interesting to see how Huckabee responds.