A Boston-area man has filed a $400 billion lawsuit against Bon Jovi, Major League Baseball and TBS over a song he says was stolen from him and is now being use to promote the baseball playoffs, according to MassLive.com and other sources.
The song is “I Love This Town,” and while the sum sought is a laugh line, MassLive.com writer Dan Lamothe thinks BoJo may have something to worry about on the merits of the suit.
The background is complicated, but it boils down to this: Samuel Bartley Steele, of Chelsea, says that Bon Jovi’s song mirrors his 2004 ode to the Red Sox, “(Man I Really) Love This Team.”
I’ll be honest: My initial reaction was to blow Steele off as a crank — right up until I went back and read the definitive piece on this controversy, which ran back in the spring in Boston Magazine.
Among the details pointed out in the piece:
— He filed for copyright on the song back in 2006, long before Bon Jovi’s song ever appeared.
— The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers acknowledged in March that it had “received multiple claims for the composition” from several parties. The letter was copied to Jon Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora and writer Billy Falcon, who split credit for the song.
— A “major Boston firm” was interested in taking on Steele’s copyright case.
If you listen to the two songs back to back, there are obvious major differences (Bon Jovi’s can be found here; Steele’s can be found here). But when you add in that Steele was actively pitching this to Major League Baseball with a copyright a few years ago, it’s amazing Major League Baseball didn’t just take things in a different direction when planning and avoid the problem altogether.
How does this mess translate into $400 billion? I don’t think anybody is taking that number seriously, but at the very least this looks like a scenario where people divide in half and take a side. That should be embarassing for Bon Jovi in itself.
Here’s a letter Steele says he wrote to BoJo’s people back in February. It appears on his MySpace page under the heading, “Do I sound like a crazy greedy fan?”
Some readers may recall that BoJo was suing an East Brunswick man, Marcos Carrington, over a beverage that Carrington markets under the name “Mijovi.” Carrington contends he named it for his girlfriend, Jovita Saenz.
That suit began when BoJo saw the product in the beverage case at Zebu Forno on Broad Street in Red Bank. Last we heard, that suit was still pending.