Jerome Lawson, lead singer of R&B a cappella group the Persuasions, is suing Apple over its use of his sampled voice from Jamie xx’s 2015 single, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” featured in an iPhone 6 TV advertisement. In the suit, filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Lawson contends the sample violates his right to publicity under California law, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The sample drama first arose in different form. In 2015, Persuasions singer Jimmy Hayes alleged the group didn’t approve the vocal snippet from their 1972 single “Good Times,” which the xx member used on his Grammy-nominated solo debut, In Colour. However, the singer later retracted his claim in an interview with Billboard, admitting, “I was told about it, but forgot.”
Now Lawson asserts that Apple and ad firm Media Arts Lab, by using his “prominent and recognizable” voice in the campaign, “deceived” fans into “falsely believing that Lawson endorsed Apple and the iPhone and/or that Lawson consented to the use of his voice to advertise Apple’s products.”
Reps for Apple and Jamie xx did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
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According to the lawsuit, Apple’s use of the recording in a commercial marks a “deliberate violation of the collective bargaining agreements with SAG and AFTRA,” including a protocol requiring separate bargaining for singers for usage in commercials.
As THR notes, the case is further complicated by the blurry boundaries between state-based claims and federal copyright law. In October 2014, in a court battle between SiriusXM and major record labels Sony, Universal and Warner, a California judge ruled that state law “must be interpreted to recognize exclusive ownership rights as encompassing public performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings.”