Subway Musical Artist Sues MTV

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CN) – A New York City subway performer known as “Mike Alaska” sued MTV, claiming it used footage of his performance even after he told it not to. He says MTV broadcast part of his show anyway, without giving him “any credit or financial compensation for the use of his music and image,” and that the clip hurt his reputation.




     Michael Savely aka Mike Alaska sued MTV and its corporate parent Viacom in Hudson County Court.
     Savely says his “signature drum routines” are “a fixture in New York City subway stations.” He says MTV employees asked for permission to film him in November 2010, and that “after careful review, [he] decided that he would not sign the contract and did not want to be filmed.”
     Savely says he was “concerned that he would be portrayed in a false light and that the footage would misrepresent his connections with other artists whose style conflict with the one he has developed.”
     The complaint continues: “Specifically, plaintiff was concerned with being associated with artists who used profane language and conducted themselves in a less conservative fashion than plaintiff.
     “This was particularly discerning [sic] for plaintiff as a significant amount of his income is generated through lessons he provides, mostly to children, with parents who would not expose them to artists of a certain genre.”
     “Plaintiff understands that the reason many of the parents of the students he teaches employ his services is because they can trust him to provide their children with something modem yet not corrupt.
     “Obviously, having his brand/likeness associated with the ‘wrong’ artist could easily result in the decline of his student-base and cause plaintiff to lose a significant amount of future business as well.
     “Plaintiff’s anxiety over the intent of defendants’ employees was further increased when defendants’ employees would not advise how the footage obtained was going to be used and with which artist(s) it would be associated.”
     Despite his objections, Savely says, he learned about 3 weeks later that MTV had filmed him and was broadcasting part of his show on the MTV program “Nickey Manaj: My Time Now.”
     Savely claims the show used “poor quality images and sounds to the extent that it reflects poorly on plaintiff’s talent as a drummer and performer” and that he has “received negative feedback” about the clip.
     Savely claims that Manaj “dresses provocatively, uses profanity and glories a specific lifestyle [sic] contrary to that of plaintiff and, more importantly, to that of plaintiff’s students and their parents.”
     Savely says he has suffered “a decline in his student-base,” and “a decrease in sales in T-shirts supporting his image and artistry” due to the MTV clip that showed him “in a false, unfavorable and disparaging light.”
     He seeks punitive damages for invasion of privacy, appropriation of name and likeness, and false light.
     He is represented by Jamison Mark with Mark & Galusha of Basking Ridge, N.J.

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