image: Porsche

image: Porsche

Porsche has been named in a copyright infringement suit for allegedly creating a copied version of American indie rock band X Ambassadors’ hit song “Jungle” for its a commercial for the 718 Cayman. According to Songs Music Publishing LLC (“Songs Music”)’s complaint, which was filed last week in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, a federal court in Nashville, Porsche created a “fake version” of the song to avoid paying royalties for using it.

Songs Music alleges Porsche – with the help of the Cramer-Krasselt Company (“Cramer”), the second largest independent advertising agency in the U.S. known for integrated campaigns – “created an advertising campaign that copies several quantitatively and qualitatively important portions of ‘Jungle.’ The copying of ‘Jungle’ by these practical partners satisfies both the intrinsic and extrinsic test for copyright infringement, and is obvious to any ordinary observer.”

In particular, Songs Music asserts that the defendants “copied the original drum rhythms from ‘Jungle’ in Porsche’s 718 Advertisement.” Moreover, “Defendants also copied the organ stabs from ‘Jungle,’” per the complaint. Other substantial similarities “include the background vocals,” which when considered with the foregoing elements, “negates any suggestion of independent creation, and shows that Defendants intentionally copied ‘Jungle.’”

Far from an unknown song, Songs Music claims that Jungle “has been hugely successful and regularly licensed. [It] has been featured in Beats’ ‘The Game Before The Game’ World Cup Clip, which had more than 31.8 million views as of November 25, 2016, and served as the soundbed for Netflix’s Orange is the New Black Season 2 trailer, which had more than 9.7 million views as of the same date.”

Porsche and Cramer’s use of such a similar song is, according to Songs Music, “blatant copyright infringement, used by these Defendants to help sell automobiles, and, upon information and belief, was successful in doing so.” The advertising campaign “began airing in the spring of 2016, and while created in the United States, has been distributed/broadcasted throughout the world.”

While certainly an egregious case of infringement according to Songs Music, this is not a novel tactic. The complaint notes: “It is well known in the music industry that advertising agencies are notorious for using pre-existing music to create advertisements, and attempting to get away with doing so without properly licensing or paying for the intellectual property they have used. This practice deprives songwriters and publishers of their rightful credit and payment for use of their intellectual property.”

As such, Songs Music has asked the court to declare that the song in the Porsche commercial is infringing of its copyright work, “Jungle,” and provide it with immediate and permanent injunctive relief, thereby prohibiting the defendants from “directly and indirectly infringing, and causing, enabling, facilitating, encouraging, promoting, inducing, and/or participating in the infringement of any of Songs Musics’ rights.” Still yet, Songs Music is seeking monetary damages to compensate for the “lost licensing revenue, lost profits, lost opportunities, loss of goodwill, and lost publicity” that has resulted from defendants allegedly infringing behavior.

In other legal news, Porsche – and a number of other foreign car companies, including fellow German company BMW – was officially prohibited from selling cars in South Korea after allegedly using manipulated documents to make its vehicles roadworthy and gain certification by the Korean government.

* The case is SONGS MUSIC PUBLISHING, LLC V. DR. ING H.C. F. PORSCHE AG ET AL, 3:16-cv-03032.