Sean Altman, the vocalist who sang the game-show theme “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?” with his a capella group Rockapella in the early Nineties, wants Rand Paul to stop using his song in campaign advertising. The artist’s lawyer, Larry Iser, issued a cease and desist to the G.O.P. candidate last week, according to Variety. They are also seeking compensation for the use of the song and infringement on his public image.
The campaign had told Iser that it would remove the ad in December, but it is still accessible. Iser’s latest letter threatened filing a lawsuit if they did not comply this time.
Paul’s version of the song criticizes Rubio for missing numerous Senate votes while a group sings, “Where in the World Is Marco Rubio?” to the tune of “Carmen Sandiego.”
“It is appropriate and consistent with the Constitution and our laws that, going forward, the campaign obtain licenses and permissions for the use of all third-party copyrighted materials in the campaign, and that Senator Paul and the campaign recognize their immediate obligation to properly compensate Mr. Altman for the unauthorized use of his works,” Iser wrote in his complaint, according to Variety.
Paul’s campaign claims they’ve already complied. “The Campaign responded, out of courtesy, to Mr. Altman’s request several weeks ago by removing the video from its YouTube account, and the video does not appear on any of the Campaign’s social media pages,” the Paul campaign’s chief strategist, Doug Stafford, wrote in a statement. “At this point, it appears that the only reason this lives on is so that Mr. Altman can pursue a political agenda or so his trial lawyers can frivolously chase a windfall.”
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Iser has a history of taking on presidential candidates over the alleged misuse of campaign songs. Variety reports he represented Jackson Browne when John McCain used “Running on Empty,” which led to a settlement, a public apology and the Republican National Party promising not use works without proper licenses in the future. He also represented David Byrne when former Florida Governor Charlie Crist used the Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere” in an ad and won a settlement and apology.
Altman cofounded Rockapella with three other singers in 1986 in New York City. The group appeared on the PBS Kids’ show Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? daily from 1991 until 1995. Altman co-wrote the theme song with his childhood friend David Yazbek, who subsequently wrote music and lyrics for the Broadway musicals The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Altman left the group for a solo career in 1997.