If ever there was a boomer story, this is it.
You might have taken some note of the names Bill Murray and the Doobie Brothers floating in the ether recently, although you could be forgiven if you didn’t, or if you paid those stories no mind, given the torrent of news we’re faced with everyday. It’s not what would be termed an important story, and even in the sphere of intellectual property news, it’s not a particularly impactful one. But it’s an entertaining story, as any story featuring Bill Murray would be, so for that reason it’s worthy of our attention.
It might not surprise you to learn that the legendarily quixotic Murray started his own golf apparel company, William Murray Golf. Nor would you likely be shocked that the same Murray, who floats through life seemingly not stressing the details, failed to get permission when using the Doobie Brothers song “Listen To The Music” in an ad for that apparel company. In any other instance, we’d likely see a quick and stern rebuke, followed fairly swiftly by a lawsuit. But the Doobie Brothers, or at least their lawyer, seem to share Murray’s sense of humor and mellow vibe, and instead sent a cease & desist letter that makes light of the whole thing, making jibes at the Garfield movies and the ugliness of the shirts themselves, while gently still making the point that Murray and his company can’t use the song without permission.
The response of William Murray Golf, while equally light-hearted, is misguided, to say the least. The letter suggests that the Doobie Brothers weren’t in fact harmed by the use of the song, and makes a specious reference to the case of “Blurred Lines” and the Marvin Gaye estate, which…isn’t similar at all to the case at hand. Nor does the supposed good nature of the offense and the subsequent exchange mean that there was no harm done. It’s hard to fathom how an actual lawyer would put out a letter asking the band to, essentially, “relax and be cool about it” and not offer to come to some sort of arrangement between the two parties.
It pains me to say that Bill Murray, star of some of my favorite comedies —nay, of some of the best comedies ever made— is in the wrong on this one. The world has largely agreed to let Bill do whatever, because he’s Bill Freaking Murray, but the law is still the law, and has decidedly never seen Ghostbusters.