Best Cease & Desist Letter Ever
If the legal industry were like the entertainment industry and gave out self-congratulatory awards, the undisputed winner for best cease & desist letter would go to California lawyer Peter Paterno for this gem. Paterno represents Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. On that Joe Walsh’s behalf, Paterno sent a letter to Illinois congressional candidate Joe Walsh. Candidate Walsh had been using the tune of the musician Joe Walsh’s “Walk Away” as a campaign song. Candidate Walsh substituted some other lyrics for the original, including changing “walk away” to “lead the way.” Of course, Paterno notes: “[U]nder [the] United States Copyright Act, you’re not allowed to take someone’s song and change the lyrics. That is not to say you’re not allowed to write silly lyrics, you just have to write then to your own music.” But I don’t want to spoil the letter by repeating too much here. You really should read the whole thing.
And the battle isn’t over. Candidate Walsh fired off his own open letter to Paterno. In it, Candidate Walsh claims the campaign song is a parody. Perhaps. But the point of a parody is to comment in some manner on the original. It’s not clear that the campaign song here comments on the original Joe Walsh tune. I really wanted to include a clip of the campaign song, but it’s been removed from YouTube – due to a copyright claim! If anyone can find the lyrics, let me know.