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Joe Walsh the candidate vs. Joe Walsh the guitarist
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff

Joe Walsh

 

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Published: 1/27/2010 2:14 PM | Updated: 1/27/2010 2:33 PM

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Republican congressional candidate Joe Walsh is being told he may "Lead the Way" while running for the 8th Congressional District, but not while using music lifted from famous rock guitarist Joe Walsh.

Due to a possible copyright infringement, attorneys for the former Eagles star have demanded the Winnetka politician quit using a music video entitled "Lead the Way" his campaign posted on YouTube and on his campaign Internet Web site, walshforcongress.com.

However, officials with Walsh's campaign said the singer in the video is using a karaoke version of the Walsh-penned song "Walk Away" and, therefore, the singer's copyright has not been infringed.

"First of all, we have not received the letter yet," said Jim Thacker, a consultant with Walsh's campaign. "Secondly, the fellow who did the music video is a professional musician and supporter of (candidate) Joe Walsh who did this on his own. The music is from a karaoke version of the song with the guitarist's words changed."

Because it's a karaoke version, he said, the artist has given his rights to use the song.

Candidate Walsh is one of six Republican 8th District hopefuls in the Feb. 2 primary. The winner advances to face incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean of Barrington in the Nov. 2 general election.

In the campaign video, Joe Cantafio, singer with the "101st Rock Division," seems to mimic the guitar chords, but changes the lyrics of "Walk Away" to "Lead the Way."

Walsh released "Walk Away" in 1975 before joining The Eagles and helping pen classics as "Hotel California," "Life in the Fast Lane," and "Desperado."

Los Angeles attorney Peter Paterno of King, Holmes, Paterno & Berliner, LLP said in a letter the video violated the United States Copyright Act and other federal trademark laws.

"As a candidate for Congress, you probably have a passing familiarity with many of the laws of this great country of ours," Paterno said. "We're writing because we think laws are important, and it might be beneficial to your potential future career as a congressman if you were more aware of them."

It blasts candidate Walsh for not seeking permission to use the music and for changing the lyrics.

"Now, I know why you used Joe's music - it's undoubtedly because it's a lot better than any music you or your staff could have written," Paterno wrote. "But that's the point. Since Joe writes better songs than you do, the Copyright Act rewards him by letting him decide who gets to use the songs he writes."

He also warns to pull the video or face a lawsuit.

"I'm sure that when you take this letter to a lawyer with a passing knowledge of copyright and trademark law, he'll give you some good lawyer words to put in a letter back to us - things like 'First Amendment', 'fair use', 'parody' and 'so's your old man'," the lawyer writes. "Having dealt with situations like this in past, we know that the first refuge of political scoundrels is the First Amendment. Just know that this is an area in which I've practiced my entire career and I can promise you that none of those buzzwords (or the law that they represent) works for you here."

Thacker said they would not pull the video until they receive the letter and consult with attorneys.

"Again, we've just heard about this from the media and have not reviewed the letter," he said.