Singer Eddy Grant has filed a copyright lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s campaign organisation over a campaign video that his lawyers say illegally used the singer’s iconic 1983 song “Electric Avenue” without authorization.
The animated campaign ad posted on Twitter which has now been removed from the social media platform for copyright violation depicts a cartoon version of Trump’s White House rival, Joe Biden, driving an old-fashioned train car while a speeding train that says “Trump Pence” and “KAG 2020” zips through a desolate town. There is no context for the use of the song, which plays as the animated Biden hand-pumps his way through the empty streets in a handcar labelled “Biden President: Your Hair Smells Terrific” while random snippets of old quotes and interviews are played.
The suit came following an earlier cease and desist letter to the president’s attorney asking that the 55-second video denigrating Biden be taken down the day after the clip was posted.
Unlike threats of action and complaints from artists including the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Guns ‘N Roses’ Axl Rose about Trump playing their songs at his campaign rallies, which those artists could claim amounts to a “false endorsement,” Grant’s action was filed under a different banner.
The claims in the suit include two counts of copyright infringement, with a judgement demand of actual damages of up to $150,000, a permanent injunction, impounding/destruction of all copies of the video and attorney’s fees.
The lyrics of the song, which include the lines, “Down in the streets there is violence/ And a lot of work to be done,” were written by the Eddy Grant in reaction to the 1981 race riots in Brixton, England. The track spent five weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983.