California assemblyman Charles DeVore thought he “had struck a vein of gold.” He even “high-fived” a staffer when he found out that Don Henley had asked YouTube to take down his campaign ad that used copyrighted material from the hit song “The Boys of Summer,” according to court documents.
Convinced the dispute would spur donations to help him win the Republican nomination for a California Senate seat, he told his staff to “rifle through,” Henley’s song catalog for more material, court documents show. Then he made another campaign video using Henley’s song “All She Wants To Do Is Dance.” But the gold is coming out of DeVore’s own pockets now, and he probably isn’t dancing or singing this summer. In June, a federal court ruled that Devore had infringed the copyrights of Henley and songwriters Mike Campbell and Danny Kortchmar. On Thursday, lawyers for Henley announced that DeVore and campaign worker Justin Hart had agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to settle damages claims.
“This says the basic principals of copyright apply, even on the Internet,” said lead attorney Jacqueline Charlesworth, of counsel at Morrison & Foerster in New York City “For the sake of copyright, I hope there will be more lines drawn.”
And DeVore sounds a little more contrite now. “The court’s ruling in this case confirms that political candidates, regardless of affiliation, should seek appropriate license authority before they use copyrighted works,” he said in a statement.
Taking the case to federal court may have seemed like an extreme way to get a video taken off YouTube. “But that’s the way the law works,” Charlesworth said. “There was remarkable amount of willfulness here and a real disregard for the plaintiffs copyrights.”