Earlier this week, Deadmau5 (Joel Zimmerman) found himself caught in a legal spat with Disney over the DJ’s logo. The mouse head with giant ears is the trademark symbol for the musician, and Disney has filed against use of the silhouette in the US, claiming that customers might become confused over whether Disney or the DJ is endorsing whatever product it’s printed on. Deadmau5 gained plenty of sympathy over the last two days with his frustrated tweets, but little traction. Today, he found a way to fire back.
“OK mouse, I never gave Disney a license to use my track,” he tweeted. He’s referring to a video on Disney’s site titled “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff – Re-Micks,” which shows a cartoon montage of Mickey getting bug-eye scarred during spooky moments to the tune of the DJ’s track. “Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff” was a hit off his 2009 album, For Lack Of A Better Name. Disney did not deny the use, as the description read, “Enjoy a spooky cartoon Re-Micks to the tune of Deadmau5’s ‘Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff.’”
“We emailed you a [cease and desist],” continues the producer. He took pictures of the legal paperwork, just in case anyone doubted that he’d really prepared a formal cease-and-desist request. The tweets kept coming after that: “So now, Disney is illegally using my work, and confusing people that I’d actually work with these twats.” Later, “Have a magical f***ing day,” and then, “Can I has trademark now? Thanks.”
The mousehead-to-mau5head situation will likely escalate with Zimmerman’s latest move. While Disney didn’t create a new song with the cartoon video, they still borrowed, which according to the DJ, is “implying a non-existent endorsement by Zimmerman.” Here are a handful of other cases of music used without permission:
Kendrick Lamar is facing a $1 million lawsuit for possibly plagiarizing a jazz riff from Eric Reed and Willie Jones III. He used the similar-sounding instrumental progression in his 2011 hit, “Rigamortis.” If Reed and Jones win out, Lamar will have to relinquish at least some rights and profits from his track.
Earlier this year, Led Zeppelin was accused of stealing “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit. The fact that it’s been a long time since the song came out didn’t matter to the attorney that represented Randy California. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
Pharrell borrowed a bit of choreography from Annie Marsen’s self-made music video to Girl Talk’s All Day. The internet murmured, but it didn’t get legal.
Oasis took liberties with “Step Out” in 2000, echoing too much of Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight.” When Wonder requested 10% of the royalties, they removed the song from the album, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?.
Lady Gaga imitated Madonna’s “Express Yourself” in “Born This Way” – and on many other occasions, as Madonna has been certain to point out (in public and in her new album).