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Court: 'Locked Up Like Lindsay Lohan' Lyric Not Actionable

If you listen to the type of pop music station that my kids prefer to hear in the car, you've heard the following lyrics from Pitbull's song "Give Me Everything" a million times:

"So, I'm tiptoein', to keep flowin', I got it locked up like Lindsay Lohan." (you can listen to it here)

Get it? The "locked up" lyric is a reference to Lohan's many brushes with the law through the years and at the time the song was released in 2011. But as we've seen and discussed here, Lohan does not hesitate to go to court when she thinks she is being made fun of, such as when she filed a lawsuit against E-Trade over its funny commercial that referred to "that milk-o-holic Lindsay." In 2011, Lohan sued Armando Christian Perez (aka "Pitbull") and others including Sony Music and RCA Music on the grounds that they had violated New York Civil Rights Law by using her "name, characterization, and personality for advertising purposes, and for purposes of trade and commercial benefits." Lohan also brought claims for unjust enrichment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Last week, a federal court in New York ruled on Lohan's case (via New York Law Journal), and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. The court stated, quite simply, that the Supreme Court has made clear that "[m]usic, as a form of expression and communication, is protected under the First Amendment. Thus, because the Song is a protected work of art, the use of plaintiff's name therein does not violate the New York Civil Rights Law." (citation omitted).

The court also found that:

  • the isolated nature of the use of Lohan's name was not actionable under New York Civil Rights Law, as imposing such liability would present an "uncalled-for burden and hazard on publishers;" and
  • Lohan's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim could not stand because the alleged conduct was "insufficient to meet the threshold for extreme and outrageous conduct" necessary to sustain such a claim. 

So it appears that if Lohan doesn't want to hear songs in the future about herself getting locked up, she'll need to stop getting herself locked up.

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 25, 2013 at 04:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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