Carrie Levine of Public Integrity has unearthed a Federal Election Commission filing that says Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign has agreed to a settlement of a copyright infringement suit for his use of “Eye of the Tiger” at a campaign event featuring Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who resisted issuing marriage licenses to same sex couple. But he wants a legal defense fund to pick up some of the tab.
Huckabee was sued by Frank Sullivan III, co-author of the song and a member of the band Survivor that recorded the “Rocky III” hit song.
A letter from a Washington law firm says:
On November 18, 2015, Rude Music, Inc. filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Committee in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The complaint alleged that the Committee had violated federal copyright law, in particular 17 U.S.C. $ 501, by playing the song “Eye of the Tiger” at a campaign appearance on September 8, 2015
The complaint sought injunctive relief and an award of monetary damages. The Committee has been represented by other counsel in that litigation, and it has incurred costs in the form of attorney’s fees and related expenses. The Committee and the plaintiff have settled this lawsuit for a sum certain, personally guaranteed by Governor Huckabee, with each party bearing their own costs and fees.
The law firm said it is already established law that a legal defense fund can be used to pay legal expenses incurred by campaigns. It asks for an opinion on whether that fund may also be used to “pay the cost of a portion of the settlement of the copyright infringement lawsuit against the Committee?” Preliminary responses from the FEC seem to indiczte this is possible.
In January, Huckabee tried to defend the playing of the song in a court filing by saying the event was a “religious assembly,” among other arguments that copyright law didn’t apply.
Federal court records indicate the case was dismissed May 6 on agreement of the parties, but the records don’t reflect the terms.
A similar lawsuit against Newt Gingrich for use of the same song was settled in 2012 for undisclosed terms.