The Black Keys when they were still touring by van.
We’ve discussed this here on DM in the past—corporations, big and small, ripping off rock and roll bands’ music without asking for or paying the groups for the rights to said music. The companies doing the thievery figure they can glom onto the band’s hip factor without having to pay for it… and this is how it’s done:
Take a song, slightly alter it and hope no one notices, particularly the band. In this case, the band did notice. The Black Keys are suing L’Auberge Casino & Hotel in Baton Rouge for using the riff from “Howlin’ for You” in their TV commercial without the band’s permission. The Keys claim the music in the ad is “substantially similar” to their tune. A spokesperson for the casino says they purchased “a licensed track inspired by “Howlin’ For You” by the Black Keys.”
“Inspired”? Ain’t that inspiration worth something? The casino clearly wanted people to associate their product with a very popular and fashionably cool band.
News sources say the casino’s ad was pulled from YouTube, but I found this. If ain’t the exact one, it must be close.
I’ve said it before kids, hold onto your publishing rights and don’t let anybody steal your music.
And for those who would argue that music isn’t identical, keep in mind that the casino wanted something that sounded like The Black Keys. That is what they paid for. But it’s not just about copping the riffage from The Black Keys’ music, their intent is to ride the band’s fame. They want to be associated with something cool and contemporary. Is that against the law? Probably not. But I do think the Keys have a strong argument based on what the casino claims they were paying for - they wanted to buy The Black Keys without having to pay Black Key prices.
Update 1/24: After reading more reports on the Keys’ suit, serious doubt has been raised in my mind as to whether the YouTube video that I had linked to is the same one that provoked the suit. While the riff in the commercial is similar to the Keys’ “Howlin’ For You,” the fact that new sources are claiming the video was removed from YouTube makes me believe I may have the wrong one. I’ve fired off a message to the Keys for more info. I’ll let you know if I hear back and will update regarding the video.
Posted by Marc Campbell |
Leave a comment