Gingrich Sued Over Use of “Eye of the Tiger”


gingrichA songwriter from the group Survivor has sued Newt Gingrich’s campaign for using “Eye of the Tiger” at campaign events, the latest in a string of cases in which musicians have gone after conservative candidates for using their songs to pump up audiences, according to papers filed in federal court in Chicago.

The lawsuit was filed in Illinois federal court on behalf of Rude Music Inc, owned by Frank Sullivan, a co-author of the song. Mr. Sullivan has asked a judge to issue an injunction to stop Mr. Gingrich from using the song as entrance music at rallies.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor battling Mr. Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination, has also used the song at rallies, but his campaign ceased playing the tune in early January after receiving a written complaint from Mr. Sullivan, said Annette M. McGarry, an attorney for Rude Music.

Mr. Gingrich’s campaign received the same cease-and-desist letter, but he has yet to apologize for using the song without a license, Ms. McGarry said. Neither has Mr. Gingrich promised to avoid using the song in the future, nor has he removed from the Internet several videos of his rallies on which the song is playing, she said.

“My legacy, my life, has been ‘Eye of the Tiger,’ ” Mr. Sullivan told the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported about the legal action on Monday. “Those copyright laws are there to protect people like me who are lucky enough to create a copyright. ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is an iconic copyright. It’s become a lifelong legacy – something you want to pass down to your kids.”

There was no immediate response from Mr. Gingrich’s campaign to lawsuit.

Mr. Sullivan declined to comment to The Sun-Times on whether he disliked Mr. Gingrich’s politics. A co-writer on the song, Jim Peterick, did not join the lawsuit.

Mr. Gingrich is not the only Republican politician to be sued for using a hit song by musicians, many of whom have less conservative political beliefs. In each of these cases, the politicians backed down and apologized before the case went to trial. But most of the cases involved music used in campaign advertisements, not music played at political rallies. The courts still have not provided firm guidance on whether or not playing a song at a political gathering might amount to copyright infringement.

The lawsuit said Mr. Gingrich began using the song – which was written in 1981 as a theme song for the “Rocky III” film – in 2009 at the Conservative Political Action Conference and other political events. Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker, also used the song during recent campaign appearances in Pennsylvania and Iowa, the complaint said.

{The Caucus – NY Times/ Newscenter}