Huckabee Pays $25K For Using Song

What’s it worth to play somebody’s anthemic rock hit at a political rally without permission? Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee shucked out $25,000 for playing Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” without the band’s permission at a rally in support of Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis last year. 

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Huntington Beach Food, Art & Music Festival, Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, Calif.

The failed candidate for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination was sued by Rude Music for copyright infringement. Rude Music is owned by Survivor guitarist and co-writer Frankie Sullivan.

While Huckabee signed off on a “confidential” settlement, the amount came to light when he was forced to report the payment on federal election records. Huckabee initially argued the rally for Davis was a “religious assembly … signifying joy and praise at the release of Mrs. Davis” from jail – where she’d been held for contempt of court for refusing to sign same-sex marriage certificates. He claimed the “religious” aspect of the event allowed him to claim “noncommercial” fair use of the song. A court didn’t buy that, since Huckabee also claimed the rally cost as a presidential campaign expense, according to CNN Money.

He then petitioned the Federal Election Commission to let him create a legal defense fund to pay the settlement. The FEC reportedly issued a draft opinion saying Huckabee should pony up himself. Survivor’s lawyers don’t mess around when it comes to appropriation of the band’s tunes without permission. Newt Gingrich was sued in 2012 after using “Eye of the Tiger” at political rallies “for years,” according to CNN. He settled for an undisclosed sum.

Mitt Romney ditched the song quickly after receiving a warning from lawyers. “The ‘Eye of the Tiger’ copyright is a very valuable asset, and we work very hard to protect it,” Annette McGarry, an intellectual property lawyer who represented the band, told CNN.