Seattle-based music licensing company Audiosocket has filed a lawsuit against the now-suspended campaign of former presidential hopeful Ted Cruz over the use of two songs in campaign videos.
According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Monday, Audiosocket is seeking damages against Cruz for President and advertising firm Madison McQueen for copyright infringement and breach of license agreement.
The background music was used in Cruz videos titled “Victories” and Best to Come.” According to the complaint, the song used in “Victories” is called “Lens” and was created by Sarah Schachner. The “best to Come” video featured music by Brad Couture called “Fear of Complacency.”
Getting a lot of inquires about the Ted Cruz matter. For those interested in the details, we posted the complaint https://t.co/SYJ9kur3Fy
— Audiosocket (@audiosocket) May 10, 2016
Audiosocket’s complaint details when each track was downloaded for use by Madison McQueen and how the firm and the Cruz campaign violated the license agreement by using both pieces of music in political ads. The “Victories” ad was also broadcast on Fox Business News, violating Audiosocket’s cable television restrictions as well.
The complaint says both ads were visible on the Cruz campaign web site and his YouTube channel. Both ads end with Cruz saying and text reaffirming that they were “Paid for by Cruz for President.”
In a call to GeekWire on Wednesday, Audiosocket CEO Brent McCrossen said that intellectual property and copyright violation is “rampant.” He credits Lidcore and its LicenseID product, which were spun out of Audiosocket in January, with catching Cruz and many others.
“There’s not really any effective technology that can track individual licensed and unlicensed usage and help rights holders recapture that,” McCrossen said. “There’s not enough transparency, especially on the internet, and this [LicenseID] technology works, tremendously well. Rights holders are going to benefit from it and obviously Audiosocket is in this case.”
— Lidcore (@Lidcore) May 10, 2016
LicenseID enables the identification and monitoring of intellectual property along with its associated data. The technology uses watermarking to encode data into media each time it is uploaded or downloaded for licensing and distribution. McCrossen said it was invented within his company at the end of 2014 because, he said, people were stealing their stuff.
“It wasn’t like a wedding videographer who should be buying a $35 wedding video license buying a personal license,” McCrossen said. “It was massive corporations downloading songs without licensing at all or buying a $2 personal license and putting it into huge brand campaigns.”
Web crawlers focused on sites like YouTube, “where most stuff is,” delivered alarming results to McCrossen and his team.
“We’re talking about 18 percent of all uses of Audiosocket content is in violation,” McCrossen said. While big brands and corporations have settled over violations, the suit against Cruz is a first for Audiosocket because “it was so egregious.”
“They got the wrong license, they put it on TV, they realized they shouldn’t have put it on TV, they called asking for permission, we said no, they didn’t come clean at that time and they kept broadcasting,” McCrossen said in summarizing the actions of the ad agency and Cruz campaign. “That’s why we took the approach we did, because the facts of the matter were so astonishing.”
Cruz suspended his run for the Republican nomination last week as he fell too far behind rival Donald Trump. He said in an interview Tuesday that he didn’t see a viable path to victory but if that changes he’d be open to restarting his campaign.
Audiosocket, with offices in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood as well as New Orleans, is a GeekWire 200 startup that says on its web site that it has “curated a roster of more than 50,000 pre-cleared original tracks, spanning 204 genres, from 2,800 emerging bands and award-winning composers who are active in the marketplace and creating culturally relevant music.”
McCrossen said his company’s goal is to create better technology to bring transparency to digital media.
“I think Ted Cruz helped us prove on a national stage that we did it and for that I’m thankful,” McCrossen said.