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David Byrne Forces Former Governor to Apologize for Song Theft


Last year, former Talking Heads singer David Byrne sued Florida governor Charlie Crist for using his band's song "Road to Nowhere" in a YouTube campaign video without receiving approval. That's called copyright infringement, and in recent years politicians have increasingly "borrowed" songs in ads and on the campaign trail without getting artists' permission. To exact revenge and to teach politicians a lesson, as part of the pair's settlement, the former governor had to post the above video on YouTube apologizing for the song theft.

Byrne had initially sued Crist and his advertising agency for $1 million, but the financial details of the settlement have not been revealed, the AP writes. Despite the lawsuit, Crist and Byrne had nothing but nice things to say about each other. "As I told [Byrne], I was sorry it ever happened at all. He couldn't have been more of a gentleman about it," Crist said. Byrne's own lawyer Edward M. Livingston told the Miami New Times, "Really, Gov. Crist almost looks like David Byrne, it's kind of neat. They could've been brothers."

More important than the lawsuit money -- at least to Byrne, who said he already had enough "bucks" -- is that the slightly embarrassing Crist video might scare politicians away from using artists' music whenever they want without asking. John McCain was accused of using songs by liberal-leaning rockers like Jackson Browne and John Mellencamp during his 2008 presidential campaign, and last year a politician named Joe Walsh re-recorded songs by Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh to promote his own political platform (imagine the confusion among voters). "This settlement again confirms that the U.S. copyright and trademark laws apply to politicians and their advertising agencies," Byrne's lawyer said, "just like everyone else."

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