Former presidential candidate Ted Cruz and his campaign’s ad firm have agreed to pay $55,000 to end the lawsuit alleging he misused music downloaded from Seattle music-licensing company Audiosocket.
Failed presidential candidate Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has settled a lawsuit alleging his campaign improperly used two copyrighted songs in political advertisements.
Cruz’s campaign and the Hollywood ad agency he had hired, Madison McQueen, agreed to pay a Seattle music-licensing firm $55,000 and issued an apology for “unintentionally infringing upon the intellectual property rights” of the two artists whose music was appropriated for a pair of Cruz political ads.
The lawsuit was filed by a Seattle music-licensing firm, Audiosocket, which also has offices in New Orleans. It alleged Cruz and his ad firm failed to reveal they intended to use the songs for political purposes, which is specifically barred by the contract they signed.
“We don’t license to political campaigns,” said Audiosocket CEO Brent McCrossen in a telephone interview from New Orleans.
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Cruz was a leader in early campaigning for the Republican nomination, announcing his campaign in March 2015. He won the Iowa Republican caucuses, and emerged as the main challenger to Donald Trump’s juggernaut. He suspended his campaign in May after losing to Trump in the Indiana primary.
His name has surfaced in some conservative publications as a possible U.S. Supreme Court candidate or as a pick for a cabinet position. Cruz is the former solicitor general of Texas and has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas, where he taught Supreme Court litigation.
The lawsuit was filed in May and alleged the ad agency, when seeking to use songs by a pair of artists whose music was being marketed by Audiosocket, failed to disclose they would be used in political advertisements.
Audiosocket had asked for $25,000 for each of those alleged contract breaches.
One of the advertisements, called “Victories,” was pulled by the now-defunct Cruz/Carly Fiorina campaign after Audiosocket sent a cease-and-desist letter, according to Audiosocket’s Seattle attorney, Stephen VanDerhoef.
That ad ran on Fox Business News 86 times, according to the lawsuit. It was viewed on YouTube 78,000 times.
The second advertisement, called “Best to Come,” remained live on YouTubelast week despite Audiosocket’s efforts to have it removed. It has been viewed more than 12,000 times, the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit claimed the Cruz campaign released the “Best to Come” advertisement before Madison McQueen had even signed the contract with Audiosocket to use the song “Fear of Complacency” as its soundtrack. That song was written by New Hampshire artist Brad Couture, writing under the name “Sleevenotes.”
The song used in the “Victories” advertisement, titled “Lens,” was written by Los Angeles film and video-game composer Sarah Schachner.
Both Couture and Schachner are plaintiffs in the lawsuit as well. McCrossen, the Audiosocket CEO, said they will be paid from the settlement.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle alleged breach of contract and copyright violations and claimed that a Madison McQueen employee, in September 2015, downloaded “Lens” from Audiosocket’s site. In December, the ad agency entered into a standard “small business” contract with Audiosocket, stating the tune would be used for a project called “Victories.”
The lawsuit alleges Madison McQueen never disclosed that “Victories” was a political advertisement. The contract specifically prohibited the song from being broadcast on television, or used for “political purposes.”
In January, Madison McQueen signed a similar contract for use of the song “Fear of Complacency.” Again, it said the tune would be used for a project called “Best to Come,” but did not identify it as a political advertisement.
The lawsuit alleged the campaign began broadcasting the commercial the day before the contract was signed.