A battle over intellectual property law has broken out between Joe Walsh and Joe Walsh. That is, the Eagles guitarist and the Republican Candidate for Congress in Illinois’ 8th District. It’s a complicated war of words about copyright law and the definition of parody, but at the heart of the dispute is “Lead the Way,” a campaign video for Walsh (the politician) featuring a re-recording of the James Gang’s hit “Walk Away,” which was originally written and performed by rocker Walsh — who is not endorsing candidate Walsh. The pair have exchanged a series of open letters reminiscent of rockers’ legal scuffle with Republicans during the 2008 elections.
Rocker Walsh’s lawyer Peter Paterno argues in a strongly worded open letter to Walsh (the politician) that, given that the two men share the same name, Walsh should have been “extra careful about using Joe’s music in case the public might think that Joe is endorsing your campaign.” Instead, the candidate plucked a song from Walsh’s catalog, Reuters reports. “Under that same United States Copyright Act, you’re not allowed to take someone’s song and change the lyrics. This is not to say you’re not allowed to write silly lyrics, you just have to write them to your own music,” Paterno writes, adding that the use of “Walk Away” mirrors John McCain’s wrongful use of Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty.”
Today on his official Website, Walsh (the politician) issued his own, equally biting open letter, defending his use of “Walk Away” as a Supreme Court-protected parody. The Illinois Republican also argued that he and his campaign aren’t profiting financially off the parody, and that Browne’s legal victory over the GOP doesn’t apply because McCain made use of the original recording without permission, while “Lead the Way” is an entirely new recording. “I must admit, I’m beginning to think that because I’ve been out there for a few months as a ‘tea party conservative’ candidate, all you liberals out in Hollywood are using this to attack someone whose beliefs you don’t understand and always disrespect (can you say Sarah Palin?),” Walsh (the politician) writes. “I hope the Democratic National Committee and Nancy Pelosi didn’t put you up to this.”