In one of the more unusual gambling related lawsuits we have heard of, this week a Ohioan band sues casino owners for putting out a television advert that features music based on theirs. The Black Keys are accusing Pinnacle Entertainment of ripping off their song ‘Howlin’ For You’, by hiring another musician to recreate a musically similar tune that is far too close to the original for the band to accept it.
Pinnacle Entertainment owns seven casinos across Louisiana, Indiana, and Missouri, and decided to advertise their slot machine games last year by using music from the band who have enjoyed a surge of popularity since their last album came out and were something of an “it” band for a while. However, the Black Keys are not known for allowing their music to be used in endorsements, and so the casino group commissioned someone else to produce a copy, then going on to brag on their Twitter account that they had “bought a licensed musical interpretation of the [Black Keys] song”, and adding on a YouTube page for the same commercial that the soundtrack was “a licensed track inspired by Howlin’ for You”. The band has now filed a case in the New York federal court with all of these details, and it certainly does not look good for Pinnacle with all of the evidence that is available.
The Black Keys certainly have precedent for pulling off this kind of suit, so it is unlikely that they will back down. Last summer they sued Home Depot for using a song based on their ‘Lonely Boy’ on their television adverts, and they also filed a suit against Pizza Hut for utilising a suspiciously similar tune to their hit ‘Gold on the Ceiling’. Both lawsuits were settled out of court by the end of the year, so quick action seems to be a norm for these rockers. They are not the first to take up such action, however; Tom Waits is well known for having sued Frito-Lay back in 1988 after he refused to allow them to use his song and they recorded their own version in retaliation. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted him £1.94 million for false endorsement. He has also successfully brought cases against Audi, Levi’s, and Opel.