May 25, 2010 / 1:02 AM / 7 years ago

Talking Heads' Byrne sues Florida Gov Crist for song

<p>U.S. musician David Byrne attends a conference with public before screening his movie "True Stories" at the Estoril Film Festival in this November 13, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Hugo Correia</p>

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - If a three-way race for the Senate isn’t enough for Florida Governor Charlie Crist to grapple with, he now has another, more lyrical opponent: David Byrne, former frontman of the Talking Heads.

Byrne sued Crist in a Florida federal court on Monday for allegedly using the 1985 Talking Heads hit “Road To Nowhere” in a campaign commercial and is seeking $1 million in damages, according to his attorney.

Crist’s campaign used the song to deride his opponent Marco Rubio in an online commercial that was available on his campaign website and YouTube for a few days in January, said Lawrence Iser, who is representing Byrne.

“They didn’t approach anybody, they didn’t ask anybody, they just used it,” Iser said.

The use of the song not only constitutes copyright infringement, but it also violates the Lanham Act, said Iser, as it falsely suggests that Byrne endorses Crist’s candidacy.

Byrne said in a statement that he has never licensed a song for use in an advertisement.

“I‘m a bit of a throwback that way, as I still believe songs occasionally mean something,” Byrne said.

He added that if his audience thought he’d license a song to a political campaign, “they might not respect me as much in the morning.”

The Crist campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.

Crist is running for the Senate seat as an independent, after having switched from the Republican Party in April. He is expected to face Rubio, a Republican, and Kendrick Meek, the leading Democratic contender, in the November election.

The Scottish-born Byrne founded the Talking Heads in 1974, and the band produced a string of hits including “Burning Down The House,” “Psycho Killer” and “Once In A Lifetime,” before disbanding in 1991.

The case is David Byrne v Charlie Crist 8:10-CV1187-T26 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.

Editing by Eric Beech

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