Jason Mraz has filed a complaint against Coors Light for using his Grammy-nominated 2008 hit “I’m Yours” in an Instagram ad, claiming the beer company did so without his permission.
Mraz performed the heartfelt acoustic song during his set at the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach, Calif. on May 4. He says that 13 seconds of his performance was later included in a video ad (which has since been taken down) on the Coors Light official Instagram, accompanied by the caption, “Kicking off summer with the World’s Most Refreshing Beer at the Beach Life Festival.”
But Mraz says Coors Light parent company MillerCoorsLLC never sought his permission, and that if the company had, he would have declined.
“Due to the family friendly nature of the song, Mraz has never licensed the composition for use by alcohol companies or other adult-oriented products and would never do so,” reads the complaint, which was filed with the California federal court on Dec. 4 and obtained by Billboard. “Though it had no permission to do so and never even asked for such permission, Defendants MillerCoors LLC and MillerCoors USA LLC wrongfully misappropriated the composition as well as Mraz’s voice and image, in an Instagram advertisement promoting Coors Light beer.”
Mraz is seeking maximum statutory damages of $150,000 for each copyright infringed — including not only the alleged unauthorized use of the composition, but also of his voice and image. His publishing company Goo Eyed Music is also named a plaintiff.
“We are very surprised they have chosen to take this route,” MillerCoors spokesperson Marty Maloney told Billboard. “Despite having the contractual rights to post the short Instagram video in question, we immediately removed it as a courtesy to Mr. Mraz and his team when they reached out.”
Further, Maloney argues that if Mraz takes issue with anyone, it should be the festival itself. “MillerCoors contracted the rights to the BeachLife Festival and video assets through the event’s promoter,” Maloney said, “so if they truly feel there has been a violation here, we are not the party they should be suing.”
“I’m Yours” was nominated for best song at the 2009 Grammy Awards, and spent 76 weeks on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 6.
Billboard has reached out representatives for Mraz for comment.