Music

Bizarre legal disputes of music acts

Music mega star daily itinerary:

9:00-10:00: Breakfast, accompanied by assortment of class A drugs

10:00-12:00: Write chart topping album

12:00-14:00: Rewrite rider list (include that new type of sweet you found in that Tokyo gift shop. But not the green ones, they tasted like feet)

14:00- late: Sort out ridiculous legal case

Okay, so we can't confirm that every member of the hit parade has a schedule like the above - but, if the following list of bizarre legal disputes is anything to go by, court proceedings are standard practice for any artist known for wielding a large ego.

Click the gallery below to take a look at some of the most notable musical court battles ever fought.

  • Bizarre legal disputes of music acts

    Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) vs Walt Disney

    Cause of dispute: Walt Disney objected to Zimmerman's attempt to register the shape of his iconic head gear as a trademark, which they believed infringed on their trademarked Mickey Mouse ears design.

    Conclusion: Zimmerman and Disney resolved their dispute with an out of court agreement. 

  • Bizarre legal disputes of music acts 1

    Will.i.am vs Pharrell Williams

    Cause of dispute: Will.i.am has an official copyright for the term "I AM" - a state of affairs confusing in itself.  When Pharrell Williams launched the creative brand "i am OTHER", Will.i.am claimed it would "dilute the I AM mark and the WILL.I.AM mark"

    Conclusion: The pair managed to reach an out of court settlement, with both continuing to use their own takes on the "I am" phrase. However, neither has improved on their understanding of the English language and the use of capital letters.

  • Bizarre legal disputes of music acts 2

    Peters Edition/John Cage vs Mike Batt

    Cause of the dispute: Silence. In Mike Batt's case, the use of one minute of nothingness in the track A One Minute Silence in his album The Planets. The publishers of late American composer John Cage felt that this was plagiarism of Cage's 1952 composition 4'33" - four and a half minutes of total silence.

    Conclusion: Batt didn't pay Peters Edition publishing a penny, but did hand over £100,000 to the John Cage Trust, "in recognition of my own personal respect for John Cage and in recognition of his brave and sometimes outrageous approach to artistic experimentation in music". 

  • Bizarre legal disputes of music acts 3

    Axl Rose vs Activision

    Cause of the dispute: Axl Rose was paid a hefty sum of cash to allow Activision to use Welcome to the Jungle in their button-tapping hit, Guitar Hero III. However, he did so on the understanding that Activision wouldn't associate the song with his former band member and long-time foe, Slash. So things got pretty awkward when the guitarist's likeness featured on the cover and extensively in the game.

    Conclusion: Rose lost his $20m claim against Activision after the ruling judge declared the artist had taken too long (three years in all) to file his claim. There had been a great deal of emailing back and forth between Rose's legal team and the game publisher, but no written challenge had been issued - only oral agreements and counter claims.

  • Bizarre legal disputes of music acts 4

    Tom Petty vs Geroge W Bush

    Cause of dispute: In the US presidential campaign of 2000, George W Bush's team selected the triumphant pangs of Tom Petty's 1989 single I Won't Back Down as the perfect soundtrack to fending off Al Gore. Unfortunately for them, Petty didn't share their opinion.

    Conclusion: Petty didn't want the US public to think he was endorsing Bush's campaign or political stance, so his publishers sent a cease and desist letter to the offices of Bush. The track has since been used by US politicians Jim Webb and Hillary Clinton, and at a smattering of high profile Democratic events.