Politics & Government

Crist settles suit with Talking Heads over song in attack ad

TALLAHASSEE — Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has quietly settled a lawsuit filed by Talking Heads musician David Byrne who accused the one-time Republican candidate of misappropriating a song in an attack ad.

The details of the settlement, which was tentatively reached last week in Tampa, are confidential. During the talks, some observed that Crist and Byrne palled around and seemed like old friends.

"It was kind of like that," Crist said with a laugh. "He's a wonderful guy. A very kind man. I really have great respect for him. He's an incredible artist. We had a good interaction last week and a nice settlement. And I'm very pleased."

Crist was represented by his new employer, trial attorney John Morgan, in mediation.

Byrne had sued for $1 million after Crist's U.S. Senate campaign released a January 2010 YouTube web video that attacked Marco Rubio and featured the 1985 Talking Heads' hit "Road to Nowhere."

Crist's campaign did not seek permission from Byrne, other members of the Talking Heads or Warner Brothers.

Byrne found out about it and quickly demanded that Crist's campaign pull the ad off the web, which it did. But Byrne didn't stop there. He pressed ahead with a suit alleging copyright infringement.

"I was pretty upset," Byrne told Billboard.com last year. The suit, he told Billboard.com "is not about politics...It's about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for."

Also named in the federal suit: Crist's longtime campaign-ad team, The Stevens & Schriefer Group and its subsidiary, Red October Productions. Stevens & Schriefer argued in court filings that Crist's campaign requested the work and that the firm "had no control over the use of materials after submitting them to Crist."

But Crist's team argued that Stevens & Schriefer should have been the ones to receive permission.

Crist wasn't the only Senate candidate who ran afoul of copyrighted songs. Rubio, who ultimately won the race, was rapped by The Steve Miller Band for using its 1976 hit "Take the Money and Run" in a YouTube ad that attacked Crist.

Unlike Crist's campaign, Rubio wasn't sued.

Read more of this story at MiamiHerald.com