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Ambri
05-31-2011, 10:35 PM
Feel free to move this if y'all think there might be a better subforum for this question.

Basically, my issue is this: my musician MC has an ex-wife who is complaining about "objectionable lyrics" in a song he wrote about her. This is an "old" song (from 6-8 years ago, when they were happily married). The song doesn't mention her by name, but does use a nickname that those "in the know" would recognize. The lyrics could be taken as sexually suggestive, though not really explicit. Could the ex-wife sue the MC for defamation? Could she somehow have her lawyers do something to get radio stations to stop playing this song? What I'm hoping for is for her to basically be told "tough luck, there's nothing you can do," but I really don't know enough about the law to figure this one out on my own. Thanks!

poetinahat
06-02-2011, 05:02 AM
I'd have to think there are a number of such cases out there. "You're So Vain", by Carly Simon, generated a lot of speculation, and I've long wondered about the lyrics for "Me and Bobby D", by Everything but the Girl. It's surely a pointed indictment of Bob Dylan and JFK.

Hope you get what you're after here!

Drachen Jager
06-02-2011, 08:20 AM
To be successful in such a lawsuit the plaintiff has to show there was damage done (among other things). I doubt she could show there was any damage done and the 6 year time-gap between the song's production and her complaint would throw a huge wrench in the works too. I doubt any lawyer worth his salt would try to proceed with that case (though she might find a bad one willing to take her money to lose).

Matchy
06-02-2011, 09:48 AM
If the nick-name is not totally uncommon, and if there are only suggestive phrases in the song but nothing explicit, I would imagine it to be hard to produce factual proof of damage done. Did she lose a job over it? Did she lose anything over the song? Also, how many people actually know it is about her?
As Drachen Jäger said, the time elapsed also speaks against her, I doubt a case like that would be admitted to court.

Priene
06-02-2011, 11:17 AM
Feel free to move this if y'all think there might be a better subforum for this question.

Basically, my issue is this: my musician MC has an ex-wife who is complaining about "objectionable lyrics" in a song he wrote about her. This is an "old" song (from 6-8 years ago, when they were happily married). The song doesn't mention her by name, but does use a nickname that those "in the know" would recognize. The lyrics could be taken as sexually suggestive, though not really explicit. Could the ex-wife sue the MC for defamation? Could she somehow have her lawyers do something to get radio stations to stop playing this song? What I'm hoping for is for her to basically be told "tough luck, there's nothing you can do," but I really don't know enough about the law to figure this one out on my own. Thanks!

I can only go by UK laws, but...

You can only sue for things that are untrue, and damage a person's reputation. Vulgar abuse is not covered, so I can call you a snivelling arsewipe or even a cowardly snivelling arsewipe, but if I say you're a cowardly snivelling arsewipe who robbed the bank on the High Street (and you didn't), that's actionable. If I wrote a song about you robbing the bank on the High Street, any radio station playing that song would be repeating the libel.

shaldna
06-02-2011, 02:24 PM
The UK Defamation Act (1996 I think) and the Limitation Act 1980 act has a limitation (the same as statute of limitations in the states) which means that you have to bring charages within a certain period of an offence taking place.

In the case of defamation, both acts state that:

“(2)Subject to Article 51, an action for damages for—
(a)libel or slander; or
(b)slander of title, slander of goods or other malicious falsehood,
may not be brought after the expiration of one year from the date on which the cause of action accrued.”.

So, basically if she didn't sue within a year of the song being released, then she can't do anything about it.

The limitation law, especially in terms of defamation, is there to prevent exactly the sort of senario you have mentioned above.

Hope this helps.