Former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s protest against same-sex marriage is going to cost him. Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan sued the former Arkansas governor for copyright infringement for playing the band’s signature Grammy-winning hit, “Eye of the Tiger ,” at a rally last year for Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who made national news for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
According to CNN, Huckabee — who had not paid for the rights to play the song — recently agreed to a confidential, out-of-court settlement with Sullivan’s Rude Music to pay $25,000 in the case. The payment came to light when Huckabee listed the $25K as a campaign expense on his federal election records, describing the check to Rude Music as a “legal settlement” for “copyright infringement.”
Two different payments showed up on Huckabee’s June 20 filing, one in May described as a $12,500 “itemized disbursement” and another listed as “debts and obligations.” Huckabee had tried to avoid paying the settlement, describing the anti-gay-rights rally on Davis’ behalf as a “religious assembly… signifying joy and praise at the release of Mrs. Davis.”
If a judge had agreed that it was a religious gathering and that playing the song in that scenario would count as “non-commerical,” covered under the “fair use” doctrine, Huckabee would have gotten away with playing part of the song without making a payment. That argument failed in court, though, when Sullivan’s lawyer noted that Huckabee claimed the rally as a presidential campaign expense.
A spokesperson for Sullivan could not speak about the details of the case, but noted that Republican New Gingrich was also sued in 2012 for using the song at his political rallies for years, settling or an undisclosed amount.