Cruz Campaign on the Hook in License Dispute

     SEATTLE (CN) – Ted Cruz’s defunct presidential campaign must still answer for a lawsuit filed by a music licensing company that sued over two songs used in campaign videos, a federal judge ruled.
     Seattle-based music startup Audiosocket said the Cruz campaign and advertising company Madison McQueen illegally used its copyrighted recordings in campaign ads for the former Republican candidate.
     Audiosocket is a service that charges a fee for pre-licensed music tracks to be used for videos or other services. Prices vary based on the intended use of the songs.
     Last September, an employee for Madison McQueen downloaded two songs licensed by Audiosocket – “Lens” and “Fear of Complacency,” according to court documents.
     The company, along with the songs’ creators, sued the Cruz campaign and the ad agency because the particular Audiosocket license the campaign paid for prohibited political use.
     “It wasn’t like a wedding videographer who should be buying a $35 wedding video license buying a personal license,” the company’s Brent McCrossen told the blog GeekWire in May. “It was massive corporations downloading songs without licensing at all or buying a $2 personal license and putting it into huge brand campaigns.”
     U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez called the Cruz campaign’s protest of Audiosocket’s alleged request for $2 billion in liquidated damages a “disingenuous” argument in his Monday order.
     “Defendants have admitted for purposes of this motion that Madison McQueen agreed to pay liquidated damages of $25,000 for any breach of the License Agreements,” Martinez wrote. “Plaintiffs assert that they are not seeking $2 billion in damages, and acknowledge that they must prove an amount of damages later in this litigation.”
     Martinez refused to limit the claim for damages at this stage.
     The judge also found that the plaintiffs’ contractual claims are not preempted by their copyright violation claims, and that the case can proceed even though Cruz is no longer in the presidential race.
     “The fact that Senator Cruz has suspended his Presidential campaign does not change plaintiffs’ allegation that defendants are responsible for the continued use of the musical compositions in ads that remain accessible to the public,” Martinez wrote.
     The plaintiffs are represented by Stephen VanDerhoef of Cairncross & Hempelmann in Seattle. Cruz for President and Madison McQueen are represented by Michael Atkins of Atkins Intellectual Property.

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