Mike Huckabee's 'Eye of the Tiger' lawsuit: Politician ordered to pay $25,000
Mike Huckabee will pay $25,000 for his unauthorized use of Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” at a 2015 rally supporting Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. According to CNN, the former Republican presidential candidate and Arkansas governor settled out of court to pay the sum to a company owned by Survivor’s guitarist Frankie Sullivan.
“I do not like mixing rock and roll with politics; they do not go hand in hand,” Sullivan told Rolling Stone last November when he sued Huckabee. “What upset me most [about Huckabee’s use] was that, once again, my song was being used to further a political agenda – and no one even bothered to ask for permission.” The rally Huckabee played “Eye of the Tiger” at celebrated Davis’ release from jail after she was imprisoned for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Sullivan has previously clashed with politicians over their use of “Eye of the Tiger.” In 2012, he reached a settlement out of court with Newt Gingrich for his use of the song, while hitting Mitt Romney with a cease-and-desist warning for his use of the track on the campaign trail.
Many modern trademark regulations date back to 1946’s Lanham Act, which allows artists to shield themselves from trademark “dilution” if public figures like politicians don’t license the songs they use ahead of time. Huckabee claimed the Davis rally was a “religious assembly,” which would’ve allowed him to classify using the song as “noncommercial” and protected by fair use guidelines. But Sullivan’s lawyer pointed out Huckabee had listed the Davis rally as a “presidential campaign expense.”
Huckabee’s out of court settlement with Sullivan was confirmed by recently shared federal election records, which listed a May payment to Rude Music as a “legal settlement” for “copyright infringement.” Half of the $25,000 settlement was listed as an “itemized disbursement,” while the other half was listed as “debts and obligations.”
Politicians from Donald Trump to Barack Obama have come under fire for their unauthorized use of songs while campaigning. Check out EW’s gallery of some of the highest-profile examples.