Bill Murray used a Doobie Brothers song without permission – and their lawyer’s letter is a spectacular burn
Bill Murray may be best known as a very successful actor, but he’s also a fanatical golfer with his own line of golfwear, including the recently released Zero Hucks Given polo shirt, which gives a nod to Huckleberry Finn – his favourite fictional character.
Unfortunately, the advert for the new shirt features the song Listen to the Music by the Doobie Brothers, for which neither Bill Murray nor anyone involved in making the ad got permission – or paid.
Which is why this happened.
Bill Murray receives a legal demand from the Doobie Brothers. And it’s everything you’d want it to be… pic.twitter.com/R1L99yZSBj
— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) September 24, 2020
In case you can’t see that properly, here’s what it says.
Dear Mr. Murray:
We’re writing on behalf of our clients, the Doobie Brothers. The Doobie Brothers perform and recorded the song Listen to the Music, which Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers wrote. It’s a fine song. I know you agree because you keep using it in ads for your Zero Hucks Given golf shirts. However, given that you haven’t paid to use it, maybe you should change the name to “Zero Bucks Given.”
We understand that you’re running other ads using music from other of our clients. It seems like the only person who uses our clients’ music without permission more than you do is Donald Trump.
This is the part where I’m supposed to cite the United States Copyright Act, excoriate you for not complying with some subparagraph that I’m too lazy to look up and threaten you with eternal damnation for doing so. But you already earned that with those Garfield movies. And you already know that you can’t use music in ads without paying for it.
We’d almost be OK with it if the shirts weren’t so damn ugly. But it is what it is. So in the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, “Au revoir Golfer. Et payez!”
Peter T. Paterno
of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano LLP
In case you don’t know, that last line is a reference to the Bill Murray golf film, Caddyshack.
The epic burn went viral – and we’re not surprised.
Pack it up. Someone has written the greatest IP demand letter of all time. That’s it. It’s all over.https://t.co/RmqqHcsU1A
— Cyrus Farivar (@cfarivar) September 24, 2020
This is what you do when you know whatever you send will end up on the internet so you might as well look cool.
And on an unrelated note, I had the Doobie Bros stay at the hotel I used to bartend at and spend a night chilling at my bar. Super nice folks and great tippers.
— T (@demosthenes_tx) September 24, 2020
My God. https://t.co/JmZYckzHJl
— Richard M. Nixon (@dick_nixon) September 24, 2020
Some people write things, some do this: https://t.co/zZL4eUtDoS
— Ashley (@Briefslayer) September 24, 2020
Intellectual Property lawyers have a new chapter in the manual.
If and when I return to the traditional practice of law, all my correspondence will be written in this tone and style. https://t.co/DEdjdaABNo
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) September 24, 2020
Look out, Donald Trump.