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Could this be the pettiest exchange in lawsuit history? Delve into the details of the Doobie Brothers' lawsuit against Bill Murray.

The Doobie Brothers are suing Bill Murray: The letter is hilarious

Most legal notices are quite dull, especially copyright claims. They usually state what you did and the exact law you broke. Most reporting on copyright claims is generally on the fact one happened. Other times, you get a letter, as Bill Murray did from the Doobie Brothers, and the letter itself becomes the headline. 

The Doobie Brothers caught Murray using their song “Listen to the Music” in an ad for William Murray Golf’s golf shirt line and sent him a legal notice. We aren’t saying The Doobie Brothers wrote the letter, but they definitely had some input because it doesn’t sound like a lawyer with “extensive experience in all aspects of copyright and trademark law.” 

Here is a breakdown of everything in The Doobie Brother’s attorney, Peter Paterno’s letter, and Murray’s response. It’s definitely the pettiest thing on the internet right now.   

“It’s a fine song”

First of all, “Listen to the Music” is not a fine song – it’s a fantastic song. It’s a glorious nostalgia song that transports you back to 1972. It’s perfect for road trips, late-night hangouts, days at the lake, and apparently to sell Murray’s golf shirts. 

Murray & The Doobie Brothers agree, “Listen to the Music” is a perfect fit to sell Murray’s golf shirt line but suggest changing the shirt’s name from No Hucks Given to “Zero Bucks Given.”

Other ads

Paterno’s letter claims Murray was using some of Paterno’s other clients’ music in ads.  Murray’s repeated offenses added him to the exclusive list of celebrities who don’t pay for Paterno’s clients’ music. Those clients certainly don’t want to be part of any campaign that rips them off.  Murray is in great company as Donald Trump and his two presidential campaigns were the only other entry on the list.

 The Doobie Brothers said it would be okay with the ad “if the shirts weren’t so damn ugly.” 

Childish insults 

A legal notice’s final paragraph is usually when the attorney cites the United States Copyright Act and the subparagraph they didn’t follow and threatens legal action. Paterno’s notice did not. As if making fun of his line of golf shirts isn’t enough, The Doobie Brother’s letter had to go and take a jab at Murray’s Garfield movies.  

Paterno wrote, “This is the part where I’m supposed to cite the United States Copyright Act, excoriate you for not complying with some subparagraph I’m too lazy to look up and threaten you with eternal damnation with. But you already earned that with those Garfield movies.” 

Paterno, why you gotta do Murray like that? If there is any movie deserving of the words: fine, okay, mediocre, or decent, it’s the Garfield movies – he doesn’t need a reminder. Murray calls his experience on Garfield, “sort of like Fantastic Mr. Fox without the joy or the fun.”

The clapback of the century

Murray did not take this one lying down. He followed it up with a petty response from his brand, William Murray Golf’s attorney Alexander Yoffe. He pointed out Paterno’s hypocrisy stating, “I am sure that Howard King of your firm, who argued that the song ‘Blurred Lines’ did not infringe on Marvin Gay’s composition ‘Got To Give It Up’, would agree your client was not harmed under these circumstances.” 

Yoffe called Paterno, The Doobie Brothers, and the rest of the law firm out. But it’s okay, as no bridges were burned according to Yoffe’s letter, “we appreciate your firm’s choice of ‘Takin’ It to the Street’, rather than to the courts, which we are already overburdened ‘Minute by Minute’ with real problems. 

Better days are on the horizon, though. Yoffe and everyone at William Murray Golf is looking forward to pouring one up to listening to The Doobie Brother’s recently released box set Quadio. Murray and the band plan to meet up at their fiftieth-anniversary show next year when live shows resume.  

But that’s “What This Fool Believes”.  So, as a sign of good faith though Murray is sending Paterno & The Doobie Brothers each one of those “damn ugly” shirts – of course, the one they find the “least offensive.”  

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