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Funk Band War Sues Pepsi Cola Company Over Song

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By Laura Strachan, Esq. on September 07, 2010 7:02 AM

Funk Band War is at war with soft drink giant Pepsi over what they allege is the inappropriate use of their '70s hit, "Why Can't We Be Friends." The answer to that question is simple, because friends pay friends royalties for use of their song. The suit, filed in Los Angeles last week, alleges that Pepsi did not hold up their end of the friendship by failing to include the band in the negotiations, reports the Washington Post.

The song is currently playing in the Pepsi MAX campaign, advertising the company's latest no-calorie cola concoction. In a statement by Funk Band War's lawyer, the problem is simple, "Pepsi is selling its billion-dollar brand based on based on their voices and they have to pay for it." Funk Band alleges that Pepsi's failure to compensate them has cost the band $10 million dollars in damages, and the group is also seeking confiscation of unlawful profits in an amount to be determined. The band has requested a jury trial.

Pepsi does not think the case has any merit. The Post quotes a statement released by the New York-based company: "Pepsi has a long history of partnering with iconic celebrities and musicians and we value our relationship with the music and entertainment industry." Pepsi claims that they have cleared all the legal hurdles for use of the song in negotiating with the band's publishing company.

PepsiCo uses celebrities and songs in virtually all of its advertising campaigns, a fact that would make this potential mis-step even more interesting if is found that Funk Band of War was improperly left out of the process. Funk Band War is essentially seeking royalties that they may or may not have negotiated away decades ago in a contract with their publishing company. Either way, disputes over rights add another player to the new frenemies as the contract with Pepsi and the band's publishing company will play a pivotal role in this case.

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