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David Byrne Sues Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for $1million for Unauthorized Use of Talking Heads' "Road to Nowhere"

Posted by Billyjam, May 25, 2010 04:25pm | Post a Comment
david byrne
Yesterday afternoon in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa, artist David Byrne filed a $1million suit against the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, along with his senatorial campaign, alleging that the governor used the Talking Heads' mid eighties single "Road to Nowhere" (Sire/Warner) without permission or proper licenses.

Gov. Crist, who is also Florida's former Attorney General, used the Talking Heads song, found on the band's 1985 Little Creatures album, earlier this year in a website and YouTube ad directed against his then-Republican primary opponent, Marco Rubio.

According to a report on Billboard's website, Byrne, "became aware of the Crist ad from a friend in New York, where the Talking Heads co-founder resides." Byrne told the music magazine that he "was pretty upset" when he learned about the song's unauthorized use and stressed that the lawsuit, "is not about politics...It's about copyright."

This is not the first time that an American politician has used a famous rock artist's music or likeness without permission. Back in 1984 during his re-election campaign, Ronald Reagan, while giving a speech in Talking Heads Hammonton, New Jersey, appropriated the work of the state's favorite son Bruce Springsteen (referencing the then popular "Born In The USA"). When Springsteen (a liberal & most opposed to Reagan) found out about this, he was pissed and put an immediate stop to it. More recently, John McCain, in his 2008 Republican presidential candidate run, used Jackson Browne's song "Running on Empty." Browne filed a suit and won. His lawyer in the case, Lawrence Iser, is now representing Byrne in the case against the Florida Gov.

The writers' credit for "Road To Nowhere" is all four Talking Heads: David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison and Tina Weymouth. In addition to appearing on Little Creatures, the single, which went to #25 in 1985 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, also appeared on Best of Talking Heads, Sand in the Vaseline: Popular Favorites, the Once in a Lifetime box set and the Brick box set.

 Exhibit A: "Road To Nowhere" by Talking Heads (1985)

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David Bryne (1), Bruce Springsteen (21), Music & Politics (1), Jackson Browne (6), Talking Heads (15), John Mccain (3)