After two years of legal proceedings, a lawsuit filed by recording artist Rob Zombie against Mazda North American Operations and its advertising agency, W.B. Doner & Co., will go to trial in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The copyright infringement suit, which will be tried in mid-July, alleges that Doner of Southfield, Mich., used the musical selection "Demonoid Phenomenon" from Zombie's 1998 triple-platinum album Hellbilly Deluxe to create a series of commercials for the Mazda B-series truck without the singer's approval.
According to the suit, the commercials, including one called "Winter," prominently featured the music and ran on network broadcast and cable from October 1999 to January 2000.
Zombie will seek several million dollars in damages, says Marc Mayer, one of the singer's Los Angeles attorneys.
Among the issues to be resolved before a judge are whether Doner willfully stole the music from the original recording, whether Mazda was complicit in that theft and/or whether the original music was used by mistake on the part of the ad agency.
Payments and awards for advertising-related infringement cases can be costly. One notable case involving the auto industry was a suit won by entertainer Bette Midler against agency Young & Rubicam in 1993 for using a sound-alike Midler singer in a Mercury Sable commercial. Midler was awarded $400,000 in that suit.
Neither Mazda nor Doner would comment on the Zombie lawsuit.
You can send e-mail to Marty Bernstein at [email protected]