Five Musicians Who Sued Companies for Using Their Image

Categories: Music Bidness

I'm going to guess the average Hot Topic shopper doesn't know who Joan Jett is. In fact, they may think she was a fictional character created for that Runaways movie with Kristen Stewart. They may, however, know all about her Blackheart brand, because Jett alleges in a new lawsuit that Hot Topic has been making quite a bit of money using her logos and trademarks on their clothing.

Hot Topic counters that they own trademarks on the Blackheart brand and that Jett and her record company had up until now taken no issue with it. Regardless, it puts Jett in a category of artists who feel that companies have misused and misappropriated their brands, something many of her peers know all too well about.

This one never went to litigation, but it probably should have. Earlier this year, clothing store Kohl's put out a shirt that not only featured lyrics from a song by indie-rock band YACHT, but that even appropriated their stylized font. It was a YACHT shirt in every way except for the fact that YACHT had nothing to do with it and were seeing no profits from it.

They released a message on their Tumblr condemning Kohl's for it, and the shirt quickly disappeared from the Kohl's online store. No doubt if they had decided to press charges that YACHT would have a pretty strong case, but they let the issue die when Kohl's quit selling the shirt.

4. The Band
This one just makes me sad. In 2004, Cingular Wireless used the Band's famous hit "The Weight" in an ad for cell phones. Former drummer Levon Helm was appalled by it, calling it "just a complete, damn sellout of the Band."

Despite being paid for the use, Helm sued Cingular because he hadn't given permission first. Unfortunately, it was later found that Capitol Records, which owns the Band's music, had given permission, and Helm lost the lawsuit just one month before his unfortunate passing from cancer.

3. Eminem
Eminem has kept running into this problem over the years, but the latest might be the funniest. Earlier this year, Facebook premiered a new ad featuring his song "Under the Influence." One problem: Eminem never signed off on that. He and his people immediately got litigation underway.

The best part, though, is that in their allegations against Facebook, they claim the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy (who are also named in the lawsuit and handle Facebook's account) used Eminem's music specifically to appeal to the tastes of owner Mark Zuckerberg.

Strangely enough, they may be right. It was found earlier this year that a young Zuck's first website still exists featuring, what else, Eminem lyrics under the "about me" section.

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