The Black Keys Suing Commercials For Songs That Sound Like Their Material
The Black Keys are now using brand companies that use “sound-alikes” of their music, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This isn’t uncommon as ad agencies will hear a music and like it, but they only have three options: 1) get the rights to the song, 2) make something else or 3) go to a music production house and get music that is similar but different enough to avoid lawsuits. This was revealed by NPR’s On the Media years ago.
Many advertisers get similar music but The Black Keys aren’t happy and plan to sue. This comes after they settled lawsuits with Pizza Hut and Home Depot for use of its songs in commercials (terms of the settlements weren’t revealed). They filed a third lawsuit last week against Pinnacle Entertainment, which runs casinos in the US and Manhattan Production Music, which creates music for commercials. They claim they have used the song “Howlin’ For You” in advertisements.
The first commercial that used music “substantially similar” to the Black Keys song ran in September for Pinnacle’s L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles. The next month, another commercial was run with “infringing music” for a second casino. Pinnacle would not comment on the cases.
When Pizza Hut was sued in September, they had several defenses. These included that the similarity between the songs was material that wasn’t original to The Black Keys and not protected.
The Keys’ suit says that on Twitter, a fan of the band pointed out the music and in response the casino tweeted: “We bought a licensed musical interpretation of the song.“
It’s claimed that on the Youtube page for the ad, another rep said that the commercial is “a licensed track inspired by ‘Howlin’ for You’ by The Black Keys.”
These have added two more charges that were not in the band’s lawsuits last year. The band claims that the defendants violated trademark law by claiming a false “designation of origin” as well as making unfair competition for them.