Steele v. Turner Broadcasting
System, Inc. et al
following was forwarded to us by the plaintiff in the case.
1. NAME AND ADDRESS OF PLAINTIFFS: Samuel Bartley Steele, known
as Bart Steele, and Bart Steele Publishing’s address is ****** Street,
Chelsea Massachusetts 02150. Mr. Steele is a singer, songwriter,
music publisher and music producer who performs with his bands, The Chelsea
City Council and The Bart Steele Band, throughout New England. Steele’s
music, including the song at issue in this case, can be heard at:
www.myspace.com/chelseacitycouncil. Mr. Steele also works as a bartender
to assist with paying his expenses and supporting his daughter.
2.NAME AND ADDRESS OF DEFENDANTS: The primary defendants in this
case are Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (“TBS”) and Time Warner Corporation.
Both TBS and Time Warner do business in all 50 states and all over the
world. Time Warner’s address is One Time Warner Center, New York,
New York 10019. TBS’s address is One CNN Center, Atlanta, Georgia
3.Other defendants include Jon Bongiovi, Richard Sambora, William Falcone,
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (“ASCAP”) Fox
Television Networks, Major League Baseball / MLB Productions, A&E /AETV,
Bon Jovi, AEG Live, Mark Shimmel Music, Vector Management, Island Records
/ Island Def Jam Records, Aggressive Music / Sony ATV Tunes, Bon Jovi Publishing,
Universal Music Publishing Group, Universal Polygram, Pretty Blue Songs,
and The Bigger Picture Cinema Co, as well as the owners of every ballpark
that the ad at issue was played in, and all of Time Warner’s Networks that
played the ad in more than 74 countries around the world promoting defendants
MLB and Bon Jovi. This list of defendants may grow, since it does
not yet include parties responsible for playing the ad on the internet.
4.For addresses of the defendants listed in paragraphs 2 and 3, please
see Exhibit A.
5.JURISDICTION: This case involves copyright and trademark infringement,
and is therefore subject to the federal question jurisdiction of this federal
court under 28 U.S.C. Section 1331 and the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C Section
101 et seq. and the Lanham Act.
6.ALLEGATIONS: In September of 2004, Plaintiff Bart Steele
wrote 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.” The song was originally
released in early October 2004, by the Bart Steele Band and Steele’s other
band, The Gyromatics. Steele, his bandmates, and friends performed the
song outside Fenway Park for the next month handing out thousands of cd’s
and lyrics sheets. Red Sox fans got to know the song very well. There were
sing alongs at the two most popular Red Sox bars outside Fenway Park (The
Cask n’ Flagon and Boston Beer Works both played the song regularly). Bart’s
roommate, who still works inside Fenway Park to this day, handed out copies
to Red Sox executives inside the park. Bart stood outside the executive’s
entrance to Fenway Park on Brookline Ave. handing copies to anyone wearing
a suit. A friend of Bart’s had conversations with a member of the Red Sox
organization, who asked her to send the song to him. She emailed
it to him at firstname.lastname@example.org in late October 2004. Bart and
bandmate, Peter Bellomo, were invited to play the song live on Channel
7 and Channel 5 and did so on October 26, 2004. An acoustic version
of the song was also played on New England’s number one Sports radio station,
WEEI / 850 AM-Boston, a Fox Sports Radio Network affiliate. The song was
also available for free download on many websites, including www.gyromatics.com,
www.kohit.com, and, most importantly, www.fenwaynation.com. The fenwaynation
site averaged 180,000 “hits” per day in October 2004. The song was
also posted at www.mvn.com, (the largest independent sports website in
the country), www.phoenix.com, and www.mikehallal.com.
7.Bart sent cds with lyric sheets to Johnny Damon, Bronson Arroyo, team
captain Jason Varitek, Kevin “Cowboy Up” Millar, Jerry Remy (Red Sox NESN
announcer), Team owner John Henry, & GM Theo Epstein. Bart also emailed
the MP3 and links to where the song was available for free download to
the general mailboxes of both the Red Sox and MLB.
8.Defendant Jon Bongiovi was in Boston to campaign for John Kerry in
late October /early November 2004. He stayed at a hotel a few blocks
away from Fenway Park, where Bart and bandmates were performing Bart’s
song. Thus it is entirely possible that Mr. Bongiovi heard Bart’s
song, or received a cd copy of it, in 2004.
9.When he sent the song to MLB, he sent them lyric sheets entitled ‘I
Really Love This Team’. In early November 2004 and throughout the
following months, Bart began revising the song and working a marketing
concept that would adapt the song for use in any town. Lyrics for
this derivative version, entitled “Man I Really Love This Town,” are included
in on the CD-R attached as Exhibit I (no.5). For example, the
words “Yawkey Way” could be replaced by the name of the street outside
the ballpark in any town. Bart also shared with MLB his idea
that a “country” song would be more marketable for MLB both nationally
and internationally. It is important to note that as Bart was working on
his derivative version for any team/town he sent defendants derivative
lyrics rhyming ‘round’ with ‘town’ (and eventually copyrighted these derivative
lyrics, as well as the original lyrics, at the Library of Congress in June
2006). He told MLB that he was working on this new version for any team
any town and was replacing the Boston specific lyrics with lyrics for
each team and each town.
10.The song was played on the Bobby Bucket radio show in 2005, and in
October 2005, Bart played the song on live TV (Chelsea Cable Channel 3)
for a hurricane Katrina relief fundraiser. Ironically, this is the
performance Bart referenced in his application to become a member of ASCAP.
[ASCAP requires prospective members to reference one public performance
of a particular original song as part of its application process.] Bart
even registered both versions of his song--“Man I Really Love This Team”
and “Man I Really Love This Town”-- at ASCAP with himself as both writer
and publisher. A copy of the ASCAP title code registration, number
433133272, is attached as Exhibit B. As will be explained below,
this registration did nothing to protect Bart’s rights.
11.In December 2005, Bart posted the song at his website
12.Many people began telling Bart that they had his song on their ipods
and computers at work and knew of others who had Bart’s song as well, but
did not know who Bart was. As the number of (uncompensated)
downloads grew, Bart realized his song had “made it” and decided to copyright
his baseball playoff anthem. He submitted his song to the Library
of Congress and received copyright certificate PAu3-052-330, dated June
30 2006. This copyright includes the derivative lyrics Bart told
MLB he was working on, which rhyme “round” with “town.” To
transform Bart’s song into an ad, defendants took this rhyme and made it
the central focus of the Bon Jovi advertisement’s choral refrain, and added
in their commercial message: “Let the world keep spinning round /
This is where it all goes down (one of TBS’s silly ad messages)/ That’s
why I love this town.” For an analysis of some of the other similarities
between Bart’s song and the Bon Jovi ad, please see Exhibit C, which was
by a friend of Bart’s who is currently studying for a PhD in Musicology.
Moreover, careful review of the visual images in the original ad reveals
that they are mostly Red Sox and Boston images—just as in Bart’s song.
For example, the moment Bart sings “Word is out on Yawkey Way, the ad shows
a shot of a Yawkey Way street sign as Bon Jovi sings “When I’m walkin’
down the street.”
13.At the same time Bart was finishing his derivative version of his
baseball playoff anthem, Bart applied for membership to ASCAP, the American
Society of Composers Authors and Publishers. Bart was attempting
to protect himself against further uncompensated uses of his work, relying
upon ASCAP’s reputation as protectors of musician’s rights and their many
statements regarding their systems for collecting royalties and distributing
royalties to their rightful owners. Bart became a member of ASCAP,
with the same rights as any other member such as defendant Bon Jovi, in
June 2006. As noted above, Bart’s application for ASCAP membership
included reference to the song at issue, noting that he was both writer
and publisher of the song. ASCAP therefore had notice of Bart’s song
as far back as June 2006, well before Bon Jovi registered his advertisement/song
with ASCAP in June 2007.
14.In July 2006, defendants TBS, FOX and MLB announced a seven-year
deal in which, for the first time ever, the MLB playoffs would air on cable
television rather than free broadcast television networks.
Following the 2006 World Series, TBS contacted Bon Jovi through one of
its musical consultants, Mark Shimmel. Mr. Shimmel specializes in
connecting his corporate clients with the highest level musical talent
when they need a jingle or music to use in advertising. (For his profile
see the following webpage) http://www.impnow.com/profiles/markshimmel/
Mr. Shimmel’s very involvement in this case shows that “I Love This Town”
was done as an advertisement for TBS being the new home of the MLB playoffs.
When Bart contacted Mr. Shimmel by telephone asking about the matter and
how Bon Jovi got his song, Mr. Shimmel told him, “talk to Turner.”
15.TBS and MLB got their video footage in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)for
the ad that would be released on August 31, 2007 and run through the duration
of the 2007 baseball playoffs. On July 31, 2007, baseball’s
DVD distribution partner, A& E, helped with the recording and production
of Bon Jovi’s DVD“Lost Highway-the Live Concert.” Thus, all
defendants were engaged in a mutually-beneficial cross-promotion based
entirely upon Barts’s song and marketing concept. In fact, Bon Jovi’s
world tour started the day after the 2007 World Series started—promoted
one of the most expensive ad campaigns in history [Time Warner provided
$386 million to help promote its networks being the new home of MLB.
Furthermore, both MLB and TBS acknowledge that this was the first time
MLB worked on an ad campaign with one of its networks. TBS has also
acknowledged that it was the first time it aired market-specific content.
That is, they produced ads with lyrics specific to each team, just as Bart
proposed. TBS “Creative Director” Craig Barry has also
acknowledged in the press that Bon Jovi’s role in the ad campaign was to
“deliver our [TBS’s] message” about TBS being the new home of the playoffs.
Bon Jovi’s ad soundtrack delivers this message: “No matter where
you’re from, tonight you’re from right here”, “You make feel at home somehow”,
“that’s why I love this town”, “that’s why I keep comin’ ‘round, etc.
This clearly shows that TBS wrote part or all of the unauthorized
derivative version of Bart’s song, most likely through a method called
16.Temp tracking involves using one song as a kind of working draft
(sometimes called the “reference track”) for the creation of (in this case)
an audio visual work such as a television advertisement. Simply put,
the director takes a song he likes (Bart’s song), puts some video images
that fit with it, and proposes the rough cut to the client. Sometimes
they use that rough cut, and sometimes they decide to hire an established
star to perform and / or change the music. It is important to note
that the video images in the final MLB/TBS promo track some of Bart’s song
lyrics too well for coincidence. When Bart first saw the ad, then watched
it with his song playing simultaneously, he realized that the striking
similarities between the lyrics, music and video images indicated that
the Bon Jovi soundtrack was written and recorded to fit with the
visual images originally suggested and selected by “cues” from Bart’s song.
This was a classic case of “temp tracking”, as described in the following
17.Baseball’s DVD distribution partner, A&E did the artwork for
Bon Jovi’s “Lost Highway” cd itself. The cd was released in the United
States June 19, 2007. Later that year, in November, the DVD was released.
This clearly shows how the corporate entities aided Bon Jovi in getting
the song/ad and cd itself out, using Bart’s work for a huge cross-promotion
of their interests, without paying Bart or giving him any credit.
In other words, A&E (MLB’s distribution partner) was clearly involved
before the June 19, 2007 release date of the cd.
18.On October 4, 2007, Bart received the first of many phone calls and
email messages from friends “congratulating” him on selling his baseball
anthem, and asking him how much he got paid for the TBS/MLB advertisement
they were seeing on television. After seeing the ad and hearing its
unauthorized derivative version of his song being sung by Bon Jovi, Bart
was shocked and devastated, because he had never gotten a response to any
of his communication with defendants, nor received any payment for use
of his song. Nor had Bart granted synchronization rights or permission
to create derivative versions of his song. It is especially offensive
to Bart that his song was exploited for commercial purposes, more so than
any song in the history of this country.
19.After conferring about this matter with the Volunteer Lawyers for
the Arts and the FBI, Bart contacted ASCAP. After hearing his story,
ASCAP employees Greg Potter and Robert Cheatham encouraged Bart to send
them all of his musicology and “temp track” evidence and suggested he formally
request that ASCAP freeze payment of royalties on the Bon Jovi ad soundtrack.
Bart sent a letter dated January 23, 2008 requesting ASCAP look into conflicts
and freeze royalties. In February, Bart sent ASCAP a video of the
ad with his own song substituted for the Bon Jovi soundtrack, to show how
well the visual images track Bart’s song lyrics. ASCAP repeatedly
assured Bart that they would make a decision on his claim within 4 weeks.
20.After several inquiries into the status of his claim, Bart received
a conference phone call from ASCAP on April 21, 2008. In that phone
conversation, ASCAP employees Robert Cheatham and Andrew Rodriguez told
Bart and his girlfriend Carly, who was listening on speakerphone, that
they found it “very hard to believe that this (the Bon Jovi song) was independent
creation on their (defendants’) part with the whole baseball thing and
video.” When Bart thanked them, and told them he was so depressed
over this that he was at the point of jumping off a bridge, they told him
would be “more depressed to know how much this type of thing happens [in
the music/ advertising business], because that’s what we deal with here
in the repertory department.” When Bart asked if ASCAP was going
to freeze the royalties, Cheatham and Rodriguez replied that they were
going to send out a “discrepancy letter that same day”. Bart then
asked if that meant he should proceed with sending defendants the cease
and desist letter he had drafted. Cheatham and Rodriguez specifically
told Bart not to send a cease and desist letter because that would “scare
away” the defendants. They told Bart that ASCAP wanted to “get the
parties together” to resolve the matter, and that sending a cease and desist
letter to protect his rights would interfere with any attempts to resolve
the matter informally. ASCAP employees Cheatham and Rodriguez told
Bart that he had “handled this matter perfectly up to this date”.
Bart thanked them and told him that he looked forward to receiving the
letter confirming the conversation, which ASCAP told him to expect via
email later the same day.
21.Four days later, Bart received another phone call from ASCAP.
In that conversation, ASCAP employee, Robert Cheatham asked Bart to put
in writing the publishing/writing percentages he was claiming for his song
and to email it to them immediately. The next day Bart received the discrepancy
emai/letter that was sent to all parties. The discrepancy email/letter
is attached as Exhibit D. The letter/email was also sent to the three
artists that claimed to write the song (Jon Bongiovi, Richard Sambora,
and William Falcone). It was also sent to their respective publishing companies.
22.A few days later, Bart received a promising email from Universal
Publishing indicating that they had received the discrepancy letter/email
and would be “working to resolve this matter with you” and would be “working
on Mr. Bongiovi’s behalf”. ASCAP also subsequently announced that the guest
speakers at the ASCAP Expo in Los Angeles would be John Bongiovi and Richie
Sambora. ASCAP knew that Bart had been planning to attend this event since
October 2007. On April 9, 2008, everything was looking positive when Bart
flew out to L.A. for the expo, hoping he and Bon Jovi could shake hands
and laugh about how they were both used by corporate America. Bart even
learned all their new songs from ‘Lost Highway’ on mandolin and guitar
in case he could join them on tour when this all worked out. The day after
the discrepancy letter was sent out, Bon Jovi cancelled their 2 August
concerts at Fenway Park, and Richie Sambora was arrested for drunk driving
and facing jail time. Given the enormity of the problem facing all parties
and the human toll it was already taking upon Bart, Sambora and others,
Bart was willing to attempt to resolve the matter informally. Shaking
hands and agreeing to work out a deal where Bon Jovi gave Bart some kind
of credit or career help seemed the only reasonable way to proceed—no one,
even the large corporate defendants and a band as big as Bon Jovi could
calculate the infringement damages involved. Bart had realized that
TBS’ conduct was willful infringement: they said or did something
to give Bon Jovi the idea that they had the rights to use Bart’s song.
Why would Bon Jovi, arguably the biggest rock band in the world, steal
a song from an unknown artist like Bart? Answer: They wouldn’t.
They would, instead, insist upon assurances that any song presented to
them had been “cleared” and was ok to use. But no one at TBS ever
cleared the rights to Bart’s song. And thus began the snowballing
screwup that brings us to court today.
23.Things changed when Bart arrived in Los Angeles for the ASCAP “I
Create Music” Expo on April 10, 2008. After registering at the Expo,
Bart spoke with ASCAP employee John Baird. Baird told Bart that Bon
Jovi’s publicist had warned ASCAP to “keep Bart away” from Bon Jovi.
Over the lunch break, Bart received an email messages from attorneys for
John Bongiovi and Richard Sambora (obviously sent to arrive while Bart
was travelling). The messages threatened Bart not to pursue this
any further, in stark contrast to ASCAP’s stated desire to bring the parties
together and help resolve the matter. Frustrated and upset that the
lawyers were obstructing resolution, Bart decided not to attend even the
staged interview with Bongiovi and Sambora scheduled for that afternoon.
Instead, Bart toured the Expo’s exhibits, where he again ran into ASCAP
employee John Baird. Baird told Bart that he had received an email
message ASCAP circulated among its employees involved with the Expo, which
tated that ASCAP expected Bart to attend the Expo and that he might
cause trouble for the Bon Jovi interview. Mr. Baird then asked Bart
to wait a moment while he went and spoke to someone. When he returned,
Baird told Bart that he had just spoken to “Bon Jovi’s people” and that
he told them Bart “was cool and was not going to cause trouble, he’s not
even going to the interview.” In response to Bart’s question as to
why ASCAP did not freeze the royalties, Baird stated, “Bon Jovi is our
biggest fish.” Baird also told Bart that he had heard about his case and
it was clear to him that the party Bart “should be going after was Turner.”
Baird then suggested that Bart take a few minutes to write a note to Bon
Jovi, which he would pass to “Bon Jovi’s people” for Bart while they were
all at the Expo. Bart then wrote the note attached as Exhibit E.
24.At the Expo later that day, Bart spoke to a representative of ASCAP’s
legal department, Ellen Meltzer-Zahn. Ms. Zahn told Bart that it
was very strange that ASCAP had not frozen royalties in his case, as it
was their standard procedure to freeze royalties when they sent out a letter
like the one Bart had received. She refused to assist in connecting Bart
with Mr. Bongiovi. However, she did pass on the handwritten note
(Exhibit E) Bart had written seeking to end the matter with a handshake
25.Having made no progress on resolving the matter at the ASCAP Expo,
Bart returned to Boston. He then complied with ASCAP’s (rather strange)
request in the March 25, 2008 ASCAP discrepancy letter that he submit documentation
substantiating his claim. This request was strange in light of the
fact that Bart had been submitting documentation to ASCAP for several months,
and ASCAP had acknowledged receipt of that documentation and told Bart
several times that they had everything they needed regarding his claim.
Nevertheless, on April 20, 2008, Bart sent ASCAP a letter resubmitting
all the documentation he had sent ASCAP over the previous months.
A copy of that letter is attached as Exhibit F. ASCAP also told Bart
that any correspondence he sent regarding this matter should be cc’d to
ASCAP. To date, Bart has received no reply to the final April 20
submission, nor any other communication from ASCAP. It is also interesting
to note that the March 25 discrepancy letter sent by ASCAP asked all
parties—including Jon Bongiovi and Richard Sambora—to submit documentation
of their claims to have written the song. No one has ever sent Bart
copies of any information submitted by anyone else claiming rights in the
song, or even let him know whether ASCAP received such information.
Bart has also called ASCAP several times since submitting the April 20
letter, with no response.
26.Tired of being given the run around by everyone (including the agency
claiming to support his interests, ASCAP), Bart went public with his story
in both print and television media. Boston Magazine published the
article, “Ballad of a Mad Fan,” in its June 2008 edition. Channel
5 aired a companion piece in late June. Both these entities could
clearly hear that the Bon Jovi ad was a generic version of Bart’s baseball
anthem. A copy of the magazine is attached as Exhibit G. (See
27.On September 29, 2008, Bart sent a cease and desist letter to defendant
TBS, demanding a response within 48 hours. A copy of that letter
is attached as Exhibit H. No response has been received as of the
date of this complaint.
28. Copyright Infringement: Bart contends that defendants have
violated the rights protected by the copyright laws, particularly the right
to make derivative works and control commercial exploitation of his work.
Without court intervention and action, a dangerous precedent will have
been set here: Bart’s baseball playoff anthem was changed into an
ad for MLB/TBS, and the record-buying public is unknowingly purchasing
an ad for MLB/TBS with every “Lost Highway” album. The corporate
entities helped get this ad out on Bon Jovi’s album. The more popular
the song becomes, the more effective the ad. The best advertisement
is the one that no one knows is an advertisement at all.
29.“Temp Tracking:” In making the ad which so closely tracks Bart’s
lyrics, defendants synchronized video images to Bart’s song without
his permission. Bart can show that with music production computer
tools available, defendants could easily change Bart’s song into the Bon
Jovi ad by simply copying and dragging or cutting and pasting parts of
the music just as we do with word processing programs. This violation of
Bart’s “synch rights” is technically copyright infringement but of course
almost impossible to prove, since once the temp track has been used and
changed enough, the original temp track is discarded. This practice
is rampant in both music production and the advertising business. The court
should acknowledge and stop this practice. To easily hear the temp track
evidence, please review Exhibit I, a CD-R containing both Bart’s original
song in MP3 format and the MLB/TBS Bon Jovi video with Bart’s song substituted
in as soundtrack. The ad with its Bon Jovi soundtrack can currently
be seen and heard on the internet as well as on television, since TBS is
using it again to promote its broadcast of the 2008 baseball playoff
games. Google: ‘Bon Jovi MLB promo ad’ to see the youtube of the original
advertisement. ( Or, for your convenience, Bart has included the youtube
link to the original MLB/TBS promo advertisement on the CD-R Ex. I- #5)
Be careful not to confuse it with the brand new MLB/TBS/Bon Jovi commercial
in which they got the new video footage from the MLB sponsored Bon Jovi
free concert in Central Park. Bon Jovi was promoting the kick off of the
all-star game weekend in New York for MLB. MLB, which put up the money
for the show, and TBS got their new video footage.
30.Palming Off / Lanham Act violation: Defendants changed Bart’s
song into an ad without permission, and gave the song to a bigger, more
marketable star to further their own ends,giving Bon Jovi (tacit or explicit)
permission to claim they wrote it without giving credit to the true “ghostwriters—Bart
Steele and TBS. These actions constitute palming off Bart’s
work as the work of another—Bon Jovi—in violation of the Lanham Act.
Many people (including, notably, a friend of one of the owners of the Boston
Red Sox) have told Bart that they heard the Bon Jovi ad and thought it
was Bart’s song, which they remembered hearing as far back as 2004.
31. RELIEF REQUESTED: 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. This total does not include even digital sales royalties,
or a portion of concert profits. Bon Jovi’s “Lost Highway” tour was
the highest-grossing tour on the planet this year. The tour was supported
and promoted by AEG Live and Bon Jovi’s ‘I Love this Town Contest.”
(In exchange for the chance to win concert tickets, fans sent in videos
to be played while Bon Jovi performed the ad song during the concert in
their town.) Nor does this total include any portion of past royalties
paid on the song. Using the copyright law’s measure of damages points out
how the law has failed to keep up with current developments in the music
business. It is almost impossible to calculate the number of performances
of the unauthorized work, and any attempt to figure damages based on the
identifiable performances—in ballparks, on television, and in movie theaters
in this country and around the world-leads to an incomprehensibly large
number. A “quantum meruit” measure of damages for the value of what defendants
got from Bart is also hard to calculate given the enormity of the publication
involved. The ad defendants put together from Bart’s song and marketing
concept became, by any measure, the most expensive and successful ad in
32.Because it has been so difficult to calculate the extent of the violations
of his rights and to prove and enforce those rights, Bart intends to give
99% of this recovery to musicians’ rights organizations, including ASCAP
and the Copyright Office itself, to help protect the rights of songwriters
and publishers, and to bring public awareness to the injustice of “temp
tracking”—a method of stealing songs that current law does not adequately
protect. As Bart’s saga shows, the current state of the law allows
ASCAP and the Copyright Office to turn a blind eye to the very wrongs they
are supposed to guard against: copying, changing and using songs
without the permission of the author.“Temp tracking” has become standard
industry practice, but it is still copyright infringement.
The reason this lawsuit is so large and that temp tracking has become such
a common practice is that the Copyright laws have not caught up to the
digital age. Who decides when a temp track has been changed just enough
that the new song can avoid liability under the copyright law? If
it came from the temp track, it is a derivative work—even if the original
author was not there to hear it or authorize its use or grant synch rights.
Because it is now too easy to copy and change songs with the click of a
computer mouse, corporations routinely exploit the work of independent
artists without compensating them, discouraging creation and advancement
of the arts, and frustrating the purpose of copyright laws. Under
current law, the superior resources of organizations like defendants MLB,
TBS and large publishers enable them to absorb all the smaller players,
achieving monopoly control over whatever art they wish to exploit.
An article written in August 2004 by Ted Turner, the founder of defendant
TBS, sums up the issue nicely. Mr. Turner states, “In the media…big
corporations play a vital role, but so do small, emerging ones…They are
independent thinkers. They know they can’t compete by imitating
the big guys—they have to innovate, so they’re less obsessed with earnings
than they are with ideas. …When the independent businesses are gone, where
will the new ideas come from? …This is a fight about freedom…the freedom
of citizens to get news, information and entertainment from a wide variety
of sources, at least some of which are truly independent and not run by
people facing the pressure of quarterly earnings reports.” Bart clearly
realizes that he is the independent thinker, who wrote a love song to his
favorite baseball team and home town. He wanted to get the crowd
to get up off their seats, singing along together, for the love of their
team and town. What happened instead was that everyone except Bart
got paid. Unless independent thinkers are protected in the courts,
as Ted Turner says, nothing less than freedom is lost.
33.Bart thanks the Court and staff for their time and attention.
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