A Seattle music firm has filed a federal lawsuit seeking at least $2 million in damages from the campaign of one-time Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, alleging it improperly used copyrighted songs in political advertisements.
The failed presidential campaign of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has struck a sour note with a Seattle music-licensing firm, which is suing the Republican for the alleged improper use of copyrighted songs in political advertisements
Audiosocket, with offices in Seattle and New Orleans, alleges in its lawsuit that the Cruz campaign used two of the firm’s songs in two separate political ads despite signing contracts specifically stating the music could not be used in political advertisements or television broadcasts.
It claims that the Cruz campaign’s Hollywood ad agency, Madison McQueen, never revealed the two songs would be used in political advertisements, one of which aired on Fox Business News more than 86 times.
Audiosocket is seeking $25,000 for each of those alleged contract breaches, and its attorneys said additional damages are under consideration. The ad has been viewed on YouTube more than 78,000 times.
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One of the advertisements, called “Victories,” has been 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.
The second advertisement, called “Best to Come,” remained live on YouTube on Wednesday despite Audiosocket’s efforts to have it removed. It has been viewed more than 12,000 times, the lawsuit alleges.
Moreover, the lawsuit claims that the Cruz campaign actually released “Best to Come” 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.”
Telephone and email messages left with Madison McQueen and the Cruz/Fiorina campaign were not immediately returned.
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.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges breach of contract and copyright violations and claims 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 February, two months after the ad was released, Madison McQueen reportedly realized it had no right to use the song on cable television, and sought to obtain permission to do so, according to the lawsuit.
Audiosocket said it contacted Schachner and asked if the Cruz campaign could use her song, but she said no, according to court documents.
“Although Audiosocket advised Madison McQueen that political use of ‘Lens’ was not approved, Madison McQueen chose to ignore the political purpose and cable television restrictions” and allowed the ad to run repeatedly on Fox Business News, the lawsuit alleges.
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 alleges that the campaign began broadcasting the commercial the day before the contract was signed.
Cruz dropped out of the presidential campaign last week after losing the GOP primary in Indiana to Donald Trump.