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Exclusive: Bon Jovi Facing $400 Billion Dollar Lawsuit


10/10/2008
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(antiMusic) Bon Jovi might be the next in line to lobby the Feds for a multi-hundred billion dollar bailout if they lose a copyright infringement case that was filed against them on Thursday. We very much doubt that Jon has a high enough credit limit on his Bon Jovi Mastercard to cover the bill he may face: $400 billion dollars. Yes, billion!

We recently told you about Boston musician Bart Steele who wrote a theme song for his home town baseball team, The Boston Red Sox, which he believed was later rewritten by Bon Jovi (see story). Steele filed a Federal lawsuit Thursday in the Massachusetts District Court's Boston Office against the veteran rockers and a host of other defendants.

The basic claim (that we could make out) in the lawsuit revolves around a song Steele wrote in September in 2004. In the suit Steele's composition is described as a "love song for his beloved Red Sox and a baseball playoff anthem fans could sing along with. He titled his song '(Man I Really) Love this Team', also known as 'Man I Love this Team.'" Steele says that through local airplay and public performances the song became well known by fans of the team as well as members of the team and their organization.

Steele claims that Bon Jovi recorded a promotional track for Major League Baseball called "I Love This Town" which Steele contends is a "unauthorized derivative version" of his song. Three years after Steele's song was first released to the public, the Bon Jovi track began to appear in on-air promotions for Major League Baseball and the song was also included on the rock group's 2007 CD "Lost Highway".

According the lawsuit we were forwarded by Steele, "Bart is requesting damages as authorized by the copyright law. As intent will be easy to prove, we are seeking the statutorily authorized amount of $100,000 per cd sold. Just under 4 million cds have been sold to date. This totals almost $400 billion." It further states that "Bart intends to give 99% of this recovery to musicians' rights organizations".

The actual plot of events laid out in the lawsuit reads a bit like a John Grisham novel with Steele's David battling Bon Jovi's Goliath (a link to the lawsuit is below). And in this case Goliath isn't just the band Bon Jovi but a host of co-defendants which includes "Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., Time Warner Corporation, Jon Bongiovi, Richard Sambora, William Falcone, The American Society of Composers, Fox Television Networks, Major League Baseball, MLB Productions, A & E, A & E/AETV and AEG Live."

We were forwarded a copy of the lawsuit which you can read here. The record of the filing can be found here. At press time we were attempting to obtain contact information for someone in Bon Jovi camp to seek a comment. If we are successful we will publish a follow-up article with their reaction.

Note: the information and details in this article are based on the information claimed in the lawsuit. These allegations have yet to be proven in court and no admission of guilt has been made by any of the parties accused of wrong doing.

Update: So the readers have more to judge the validity of the allegations in this lawsuit, here are some links so you can compare the two. We did include similar links in our earlier article about the allegations. The YouTube video of the MLB promo video of Bon Jovi's "I Love This Town" can be viewed here. - Bart Steele's "Man I Really Love This Team" can be heard here. For the record the feedback we did receive from readers after we ran the original article found that most didn't really see the connection between the two beyond the overall similar theme. If it goes that far, it will be up to a jury to see if there is any real connection between the two compositions.

This story also inspired one of our columnists to pen an editorial with his take on this case. Read it here



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