784 F.Supp.2d 94 (D. Mass. May 17, 2011)


​Complaining Work

​Defending Work

Samuel Steele

“Man I Really Love This Team”

Hear Sound Recording​

 Jon Bongiovi[Bon Jovi]

“I Love This Town”

Hear Sound Recording

View Video Clip


Comment by Charles Cronin

This is a regrettable dispute insofar as it undoubtedly involved considerable work and expense on the part of the defendant, and the court (taxpayers), to accommodate what appears to have been a sadly misguided pro se plaintiff à la Ira Arnstein (see Arnstein v. Porter ). The matter is interesting, however, in that it involves an imaginative copyright infringement claim based upon allegations that the defendants copied the meaning of the lyrics of the plaintiff’s song in creating a video recording that used the music and lyrics of another performer, Jon Bongiovi. Samuel Steele, the plaintiff, refers to the technical means by which the defendant’s used his work as “temp tracking” – i.e. temporarily using the plaintiff’s audio recording while developing an audio/video recording that uses the defendant’s work.

The court (Nathaniel Gorton, District Court Judge) demonstrating the typical indulgence shown pro se litigants, solemnly reviewed the plaintiff’s claims (the sadly entertaining complaint is posted here: Steele Complaint.pdf) and granted defendants their request for summary judgment. It seems likely that the defendants may have been aware of the plaintiff’s work, capitalizing on it in developing their TV ad, and as a matter of common decency might have acknowledged the plaintiff in some manner, even if not legally obligated to do so.

Both songs are wretched “anthems” intended for the delectation and stimulation of sexually insecure, parochial young men. The lyrics of Jon Bongiovi’s are particularly vomitous – the verbal equivalent of a MacDonald’s “Happy Meal”.

I’ve got some good friends here, I might have broke a heart or two

It’s gettin’ loud over there, the boys must have had a few…

Yeah, let the world keep spinning ‘round and ‘round

This is where it all goes down, down, down

That’s why I love this town….

Say hey (Say hey) Say yeah (Say yeah)

The TV ad (sometimes available on YouTube) shows men and women segregated, the Bon Jovi band in full force (complete with drummer sporting a charming “love patch” on his chin) with the lead singer carefully executing his choreographed routine — raising arms on cue to exhibit his underarm hair while mouthing lyrics intended to capitalize on the chauvinistic impulses, and wallets, of an uneducated male audience.

Opinion: PDF