Popular Guyanese singer Eddy Grant says he has taken “prompt action” against United States President, Donald J. Trump’s political campaign team, claiming it is liable in excess of US$100 million for the “unlawful use” of the superstar’s 1983 US chart topping hit “Electric Avenue” in a video criticizing Joe Biden, the US Democratic Presidential candidate.
Grant said on his official online store that the animated video, which was posted to the personal Twitter account of Dan Scavino, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, “plays unflattering audio quotes from Biden, set to the tune of ‘Electric Avenue.’”
“In my particular case, they have sought to encapsulate my intellectual property into derogatory political rhetoric, further encapsulated in a video production that can only be construed at best as being wicked, thereby causing me considerable emotional distress,” said the Barbados-based Grant.
He said that his legal counsel, Wallace E.J. Collins, on Aug. 13, issued a cease and desist letter to the Donald Trump campaign team, stating that Grant is “the singer/songwriter and sole and exclusive rightful copyright owner of the musical composition and sound recording of ‘Electric Avenue.’”
“You have made an unauthorized use of our copyrighted work in connection with the political campaign of Donald Trump,” said Collins in his letter. “As a result of your wrongful, unauthorized infringing use in connection with your controversial political campaign, substantial damage and irreparable harm has (have) occurred and will continue to occur to my client and his reputation as an artist when affiliated in any way with your campaign.”
Grant said he is “just one in a line of musicians demanding that Trump and/or his campaign, cease and desist from using his words and music for political purposes.”
The signer said it is his understanding that “all of the Trump campaign team’s transgressions with regard to the use of other people’s music, have taken place during political meetings.
“I can understand the flagrant abuse of my rights being attributed to the worst Third World nation in the world, wherever that can be found; one that does not preach democracy on every available occasion, but I fail to understand, however, that such an organization dedicated to the promotion of the President of the United States could so seriously abuse my rights as an artist, composer, arranger, producer and, ultimately, the owner of these abused rights,” Grant said.
In the letter to Trump’s team, Collins, a leading copyright authority, also said that, “as a result of your wrongful unauthorized infringing use in connection with your controversial political campaign, substantial damage and irreparable harm has (have) occurred and will continue to occur to my client and his reputation as an artist when affiliated in any way with your campaign.”
Collins said that Grant “has always had a reputation for standing for truth and justice for all, and that this will be seriously undermined by any affiliation with the name Trump in this political context.
“Such damage will extend to the value of my client’s musical catalogue,” he said.
According to Collins, the Trump campaign team neither asked for nor received permission to use “Electric Avenue” under U.S.C. Section 101 et seq., and that “they should be held liable for statutory damages as set forth in Section 504 (c)(2) therein.”
Collins is demanding that the Trump campaign “immediately cease and desist from any further use or exploitation of the song.
“If you know my client’s reputation, then you know that this infringing use in connection with the name Trump in a political context is a serious transgression,” said Collins in his letter.
The lawyer also demanded that the Trump team “hold any monies arising out of or relating to your campaign and attributable to the infringing use of ‘Electric Avenue’ until the matter is fully and fairly resolved.
“We prefer to resolve this dispute expeditiously, in order to avoid time-consuming and costly litigation, and the negative publicity that can surround the unauthorized use of such an iconic musical composition, especially where the use indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of the very meaning of the underlying work, ‘Electric Avenue,’” Collins said.
Grant also called upon “such arbiter, as is responsible for this sordid abuse, to come forward like a man and let’s sort this thing out, in the way that America demands when such issues are to be sorted, especially when they are wrong.
“Mr. Trump, I am calling on you,” Grant urged. “You are the final arbiter, and I await the word from you.”