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A law blog by Robert Lombardo on The Whole 9

Attorney Robert Lombardo came from the creative world and then began practicing law in 1995. The diversity of his professional life (years of which were spent in Europe, Australia and Japan) gives him a unique perspective on the law. Currently Robert is focusing on entertainment law (which encompasses nearly all creative industries) and brings this firsthand experience and desire to make the law accessible to the The Whole 9 community.

Flying High?

Were you watching the Super Bowl ads this past Sunday?  Did you see the commercial for the Air Force Reserve?

Take a look at the ad here:  Grab Some Air – (it starts at about 8 sec.)

Recognize that tune?

If not, take a look at this video: Fell In Love With A Girl

Nope; the White Stripes were not amused.

Last Monday, they wrote on their Third Man Records site:

We believe our song was re-recorded and used without permission of the White Stripes, our publishers, label or management.

The White Stripes take strong insult and objection to the Air Force Reserve presenting this advertisement with the implication that we licensed one of our songs to encourage recruitment during a war that we do not support.

The White Stripes support this nation’s military, at home and during times when our country needs and depends on them. We simply don’t want to be a cog in the wheel of the current conflict, and hope for a safe and speedy return home for our troops.

We have not licensed this song to the Air Force Reserve and plan to take strong action to stop the ad containing this music.

The next day, according to the New York Times, the Air Force Reserve issued this statement:

In response to the claims being made today regarding the Air Force Reserve regional ad that aired in select markets during the Super Bowl, the Air Force Reserve, through its advertising agency [Blaine Warren Advertising], hired Fast Forward Music of Salt Lake City to score original music for its commercial. There was never any intention to utilize any existing music or to sound like any music by the band White Stripes or any other musical performer. Any similarity or likeness to any other music is completely unintentional.

The composer, Kem Kraft, a freelance musician based in Salt Lake City, said:

I’m sorry it sounds the same. It wasn’t my intention, truly, truly, truly.

[If the White Stripes] want to call me and talk to me, as far as I’m concerned, I’m responsible for this. Just me.

I’m pretty much a one-man band here. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Air Force. They didn’t know anything, and I didn’t know anything either.

Mike Lee, the owner of Fast Forward Productions, said:

We went back and forth on the song several times. We changed stuff quite a bit, just to match the tempo of how I cut it together.

I wasn’t familiar with the White Stripes song. I’ve heard of the White Stripes but I’m not a listener of theirs. I had no idea there was similarity until after the fact.

 

So if the White Stripes sue for copyright infringement they will need to prove that the composer had access to their song and that there is a “substantial similarity” between the music.  They do not need to prove “intent.”

 

You are the judge.  Did the Air Force grab some music?

 

 

  1. There’s no doubt in my mind that this is the same song. It sucks. I’ve been to court several times in the past for being ripped off. It is infuriating and even if you win,(at least in my case), little was gained, but plenty was paid in attorney’s fees. White Stripe was ripped off and the composer knew it, I’ll bet on it.

  2. If the composer was around a radio in the mid 2000s, he had easy access to that song. While watching that commercial, I could tell within the first few notes that the song is Fell In Love With a Girl – the similarity is so substantial that they sound exactly the same.
    This situation reminds me of when Vanilla Ice ripped off David Bowie but at least Ice Ice Baby wasn’t the soundtrack of military propaganda.

  3. Even if it was unintentional, I still sort think that he HAD to have heard that song before. So, maybe he wasn’t trying to rip it off, but the tune was in the back of his mind and he accidentally did. I know they’ve stopped airing this ad, and so I think that apologies should be made and that should be that.

  4. Sounds like it to me — although I believe that there’s a possibility that the person approving this on the Air Force’s end would not have recognized the song. I would have to say the guy that did the music should be held responsible.

  5. guessing from- the- rumble- seat- in- the- back- of- the- minivan .. did NOT catch it .. so any comment here is tangentially qualified or summarily disqualified …

    though i have had to check those horns/thorns …. no fun …
    ,
    i generally do not presume, nor presume the best BIG BIZ … that said …

    artists/we are affected consciously and subconsciously … ( respect ! and see legjr above comment ) intervening years are relatively unimportant …. intention IS …. the trick ( and legality turns on) HOW different .. and is there some registration / copyright …

    India Arie regularly wrote SW riffs .. and paid homage ( not $) .. Lauryn sounds like Aretha and loves Ceelo …. i have trouble telling some Ohio Players from EWF … same of some 60’s sounds …. and derivations .. Beatles impressed EVERYONE … i hear them everywhere … whether we think so or declaim same …

    if there is any context for TRUST among the creatives … the offended / concerned ARTISTS should engage directly … and then consider who added to any marketing mischief … proceed accordingly …

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