An unsigned London band, 7 Seconds of Love’, claimed that a Coca Cola TV campaign in Argentina used music remarkably similar to its song Ninja. Coca Cola denied liability but were they amenable to a pragmatic settlement?
When: January 2007
An unsigned London-based band named '7 Seconds of Love' claimed that Coca–Cola had infringed its copyright in one of its biggest hit songs. The copyright infringement was brought to the attention of the band by fans who noted that a Coca–Cola advertising campaign in Argentina had remarkable similarities to the band's song, 'Ninja'.
Although unsigned, 7 Seconds of Love have enjoyed considerable success through a website called Rathergood.com which was created by the band's lead singer, Joel Veitch. The website is well known for its use of kitten animations, which feature in the song Ninja, and have even been used in advertising campaigns, most notably for Crusher Milkshake.
The band noted that the Coca-Cola campaign not only had musical similarities with the Ninja song, but the visuals were also remarkably similar, with the Coca–Cola campaign using Ninja cats like those created by Veitch.
The band decided to take on Coca–Cola, alleging a breach of copyright. Coca-Cola responded by stating that it had commissioned the advertisement from an advertising agency in Argentina who had maintained that the work was original. Nonetheless, the parties managed to reach a settlement. Coca–Cola agreed to make an undisclosed payment to the band and to take the advertisement off air. The band stated that the money would go towards recording an EP and various baby related charities.
Why this matters:
The settlement is a significant victory for 7 Seconds of Love and another blow for brands in the ongoing 'bands versus brands' tussle. It also underlines the risks of using material "inspired" by third party works, no matter how far beyond the seas.