Last year in October, I was contacted by Bart Steele, who is suing TBS among others for a song that he had written last year. Well late last night, he updated me on the situation and here is what he says in his own words:

Appeal filed in Steele v. Turner Broadcasting et al (case#08-11727)
Coincidence or Copyright Infringement?

On Friday, November 6, 2009, I filed a Notice of Appeal to the First Circuit Federal Court, which marks a turning point in my copyright lawsuit. The defendants in the case include Turner Broadcasting, Major League Baseball, The Boston Red Sox, and Bon Jovi. These defendants are connected in many ways–Major League Baseball Advanced Media runs Bon Jovi’s website.

My lawsuit is based on what I believe was the defendants’ use of my Boston baseball playoff song “Man I Love This Team” as a temp track in the production of a commercial for Major League Baseball. The audio portion of that commercial was performed by Bon Jovi. I believe that commercial–both the visual images and the Bon Jovi audio-were derived from my song.

I sent my song to the Red Sox and Major League Baseball and told them I had written another version called “Man I Really Love This Town.” In basic legal terms, what I believe defendants did was make an “unauthorized derivative work.” Their MLB “I Love This Town” campaign was one of the most expensive sports commercials in history.

The easiest way to understand what they did is to watch the commercial, with my song substituted for the Bon Jovi audio, and see how well it matches up. Boston Magazine described this as “advertising’s equivalent of Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz.” Actually, it’s worse. Watch the commercial with my song (posted below) and decide for yourself. The documents I filed with the trial court contain extensive detail about the similarities, but here are just a few:

  • at the exact time I am singing “Yawkey Way”, the video shows a Yawkey Way street sign, and Bon Jovi is singing “this street”
  • at the exact time I sing “Tigers”, the video shows a Detroit Tigers player
  • over 50% of the commercial’s lyrics are identical to, or paraphrased from, my song
  • 96% of the commercial’s frame cut editing is in perfect synchronization with my song’s tempo, beat and measure
  • the commercial and my song are exactly the same length.

As you watch and listen for yourself, keep in mind that the defendants claim the commercial was a wholly independent creation, neither copied from nor influenced by my song. Yet, at the same time they admitted they had access to my song. They claim that any similiarities (and there are many-see for yourself) are mere coincidence. You decide. The video is posted below.

“Thou Shalt Not Steele” – Bart Steele 11/09/09

This announcement and the MLB video with my song are conveniently located at:

And here is the Bon Jovi/MLB version.