Bands sue over Rolling Stone magazine cartoon feature

January 2008


The dispute between certain US indie labels and the American music magazine Rolling Stone has escalated after two bands – Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up – launched a class action lawsuit against the magazine’s publisher, Wenner Media, and one of their advertisers, RJ Reynolds who produce Camel cigarettes. The dispute relates to a cartoon feature that appeared in the magazine last month, and which featured cartoons of various indie bands – but the feature was backed by a big advert for Camel cigarettes, and a number of the artists featured in the
cartoons claim that readers will have assumed the cigarette brand had sponsored the feature, and that they, the artists, had endorsed that sponsorship. Wenner have denied that the feature was sponsored, and claim it was a coincidence the cartoon feature was printed back to back with the Camel ad. However, despite that a number of indie labels whose artists appeared in the feature last week published an open letter demanding a retraction and
apology from the magazine, while political types have been taking aim at Camel owners RJ Reynolds claiming that the association with a music based cartoon feature breaches a cigarette industry code of conduct regarding not promoting their products to the youth market.
According to Billboard, Xiu Xiu and Fucked Up’s lawsuit alleges the publisher and cigarette maker are guilty of the unauthorised use of artists’ names, unauthorised use of artist names for commercial advantage and unfair business practices. The legal papers say the two defendants were guilty of “despicable conduct” that was “illegal under settled, unambiguous California statutory and common law”.

from CMU Daily 19 December 2007

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