Pizza Hut, Home Depot ads strike sour note with The Black Keys

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

When members of the band The Black Keys saw a recent Pizza Hut commercial, they thought the music sounded a lot like their song “Gold on the Ceiling.” They got the same feeling when they saw a Home Depot spot promoting power tools to the tune of music that, to their ears, was very similar to their single “Lonely Boy.”

The problem was, neither Pizza Hut nor The Home Depot had paid the band license fees for the music, so in June, the band sued both companies separately, alleging copyright infringement.

Recently, both Pizza Hut and the Home Depot filed separate-but-similar denials. Both companies claimed the music used in the commercials is not a rip-off and that the lawsuits are without merit. Both companies want The Black Keys to pay their attorney’s fees, since they think the lawsuit should never have been filed in the first place. Neither company offered any suggestion as to why The Black Keys might have thought he music was a copy of their own.
Members of The Black Keys have not commented on the denials. Nor have Pizza Hut or The Home Depot, although the initial lawsuit did prompt a Home Depot spokeswoman to say the company “takes matters of intellectual property very seriously.”

Now, it is not always easy to tell when there has been copyright infringement when it comes to music. After all, there is a certain subjective nature to hearing that isn’t present with, say, plagiarized writing. This is why, in intellectual propertycases, it is often a good idea to look for an attorney who has experience with cases similar to your own. Experience is often a good teacher.

Source: MTV, “Black Keys Copyright Claims Denied By Pizza Hut, Home Depot,” James Montgomery, Aug. 17, 2012