When members of the musical group The Black Keys saw a recent ad for Pizza Hut, it did not make them want to buy the chain’s Pizza Bites. Instead, it made them think the company was infringing on the band’s single “Gold on the Ceiling.”
They had the same thought when they saw a Home Depot spot selling power tools. It used a background track that, to their ears, sounded too much like their own song “Lonely Boy.”
Because neither Pizza Hut nor Home Depot ever obtained permission from The Black Keys or paid a license fee to use its music, The Black Keys sued them, claiming copyright infringement.
Earlier this week, though, both Pizza Hut and Home Depot responded separately and denied infringing on The Black Keys’ copyrights. Neither company has commented publicly on its denial, and The Black Keys haven’t made any statement, either. Thus, we’re left to wonder what explanation Pizza Hut and Home Depot have to offer for the evident similarities in sound between The Black Keys’ songs and the songs used in the advertisements.
As you can see, copyrights are a valuable asset for the people who hold them. Conversely, they are a well-defined legal right that other entities must take care to treat with respect, lest they get sued for violating their protections. If there is ever a time when you need guidance, either on your own intellectual property assets or on a case in which you stand accused of violating someone else’s, selecting the right attorney to represent you is critical.
Source: MTV, “Black Keys Copyright Claims Denied By Pizza Hut, Home Depot,” James Montgomery, Aug. 17, 2012