Bill Murray’s company, William Murray Golf, has been using the Doobie Brothers song “Listen to the Music” in ads without compensating the band, and the result has been a back and forth of dad jokes between both sides’ legal counsel.
On Wednesday, the Doobies’ lawyer Peter Paterno publicly issued the funniest legal threat we’ve ever seen. “It’s a fine song. I know you agree because you keep using it in ads for your Zero Hucks Given golf shirts,” he wrote in the letter. “However, given that you haven’t paid to use it, maybe you should change the company name to ‘Zero Bucks Given.’”
The attorney went on to point out that the actor’s unlawfully used songs from other clients as well. “It seems like the only person who uses our clients’ music without permission more than you do is Donald Trump,” he wrote. Zing.
“This is the part where I’m supposed to cite the United States Copyright Act, excoriate you for not complying with some subparagraph that I’m too lazy to look up and threaten you with eternal damnation for doing so. But you already earned that with those Garfield movies. And you already know you can’t use music in ads without paying for it,” Paterno added before making one final crack at Murray. “We’d almost be OK with it if the shirts weren’t so damn ugly. But it is what it is.”
Murray’s lawyer Alexander Yoffe’s got jokes too and put them on full display in his response. “First, I would like to compliment you on finding levity in the law at a time when the world and this country certainly could use a laugh. Your client’s demand was able to cut through the noise of the news cycle and remind us how much we all miss live music these days,” he wrote.“We would also like to confirm that both our firm, and the good folks at William Murray Golf, are indeed fans of the Doobie Brothers’ music, which is why we appreciate your firm’s choice of ‘Takin’ It to the Streets,’ rather than to the courts, which are already overburdened ‘Minute by Minute’ with real problems.”
He went on to note how the firm representing the Doobie Brothers also handled Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams’ “Blurred Lines” battle against Marvin Gaye’s estate, stating that they must agree the Doobies were “not harmed under these circumstances.”
Yoffe then addressed Paterno’s “negative comments” about the clothing line, calling them “disconcerting,” “especially considering 75% of my wardrobe consists of William Murray polos, shorts and pants.”
“In the immortal words of Mr. Murray—the more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything… so let’s pour one up and unwind with a listen of the recently-released ‘Quadio’ box set and plan to cross paths at a Doobie Brothers’ 50th anniversary show in 2021 when some level of normalcy resumes,” Yoffe wrote. “As your client so aptly stated in this classic song in question, ‘What the people need is a way to make them smile’ — which both Bill and the Doobies have been doing for decades, as world-class entertainers.”
The attorney closed his letter with an offer for Paterno and the band members to pick the “least offensive” shirts in the collection, and “We will happily upgrade your wardrobes and hopefully win each of you over as new fans of the brand. At least that’s ‘what this fool believes.’”
Let the slow clapping begin.
See both letters below.