The Doobie Brothers and Bill Murray In Legal Feud Over Song Use

Recorded on October 14, 2020

The band The Doobie Brothers issued a cease and desist notice to Bill Murray’s golf apparel company over the unauthorized use of a song in the company’s commercials. Attorney Ben Barry of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with WIZN discussing the legal feud.

Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.

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Joe: 106.7 WIZN. And it’s the Doobie Brothers and “Listen to the Music,” on the Wednesday Rocking your Ride Home. A song by the way, which was used in a William Murray golf commercial. Of course, that is the golf apparel company owned by the one and only Bill Murray, and the Doobie Brothers are not too happy about that. So, we brought Ben Barry on the program from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Ben.

Ben: Hello, Joe.

Joe: So, Ben, we were talking about this earlier, and I know you know about this situation, so what can you tell us about it?

Ben: I do a little bit. Bill Murray has a golfing outfit line and the Doobie Brothers have sent what is called commonly a cease and desist letter saying, “Hey, stop using our song for your commercial and your clothing line, you haven’t paid us for it, you haven’t gotten our permission to use it and that violates the Copyright Act.”

Joe: Right. So they do have a case, the Doobie Brothers?

Ben: Yeah, I mean, they have a case to tell Bill Murray, “Hey, stop it and if you continue to attempt to use our song in the promotion and sales of your golfing attire, we’re going to have a good claim for damages that will amount to some percentage of the sales that are associated with potentially that commercial.” It’s hard to prove but he is using the song without their permission and so they have every right to ask him to stop and they have every right to say to a court, “We asked him to stop, he did not stop and as a result of that we think that he’s benefited financially from the use of our song in his commercials and we’re gonna ask for some of that money back.”

Joe: Do you know what Bill Murray’s reaction was to that?

Ben: I imagine if I were in Bill Murray’s living room when that notice was served on him I don’t know what he would have said, but I imagine it would have been hilarious.

Joe: Well, this is what he did, he sent him a bunch of William F. Murray merchandise, he sent him a bunch of T-shirts basically.

Ben: I think that’s a great response. You know, and it’s funny, you mentioned that because, in some circumstances, there have been artists who have sent cease and desist letters, the person who responded to it sent merchandise or send something funny, or developed a relationship and that ended up in the cease and desist being withdrawn and permission being granted to use the song.

So, I think Bill Murray made a strategic decision to send some of his merchandise in the hopes that it would encourage the Doobie Brothers to acquiesce in his use of the song. I don’t know that that’s actually the case.

Joe: Well, let’s help these two kids learn to get along because I love the Doobie Brothers and I definitely love Bill Murray. All right. Thank you very much. Ben Barry for Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Thanks for coming on, buddy.

Ben: Thank you, Joe. Have a good one, man.

Joe: Remember, you can call Ben at anytime at 1800LAW1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. Stay tuned. Mel Allen takes over he’s got music from Queen, AC/DC and more next.

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