Kevin Spacey Threatens to Sue Indie Rock Act Over Album Name

Actor’s lawyers hit musician Jason Drake with cease-and-desist, claiming name had been trademarked for music

Last Updated: May 13, 2011 @ 7:42 AM


Kevin Spacey has threatened an indie music act with legal action over the use of his name as an album title.

Jason Drake — a Los Angeles-based musician and producer who records under the name Cassettes Won't Listen — had titled his forthcoming solo album "Kevinspacey," pressing several thousand copies. But lawyers for the actor hit Drake with a cease-and-desist letter in late April, Drake's representatives said, claiming that Kevin Spacey's name is trademarked not only for acting, but also for music. (Spacey's lawyers did not immediately return a request for comment.)

Spacey, you’ll recall, portrayed big band singer Bobby Darin in 2004's "Beyond the Sea" — a film he co-wrote, directed, produced and sang in. He also contributed a song to the "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" soundtrack.

Drake has since dropped the "K," re-titling the record "Evinspacey." The album is due out June 21st on the small Daylight Curfew label.
It's worth noting that Drake has a history of stunts that result in threatening letters. In 2008, he was served with a cease and desist by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) over the unauthorized release of a Guns N' Roses/Ludacris mashup called "Ludacris Democracy." The mashup was subsequently pulled from the Web.

While albums named for actors or filmmakers are somewhat rare, song titles (think Gorillaz' "Clint Eastwood" or Fugazi's “Cassavetes”) and actor-inspired band names are fairly common — Com Truise, Gay for Johnny Depp (a Brooklyn hardcore band with an apparent homoerotic obsession for "Captain Jack"),  Abe Vigoda and Mary Tyler Morphine, to name just a few.

Legal threats over such names are not. Just last month, Spike Lee threatened to sue a Maryland punk-pop band called "A Spike Lee Joint." The group's lead singer, G'Ra Asim, told the Washington Post they "arrived at its name by taking a touchstone of black culture and repurposing it." (“There’s nothing more punk than that,” Asim said.) However, the band said it would honor Lee's request.

Santogold, the Brooklyn-based singer, was forced to change her name to Santigold in 2009 after Santo Gold, a little-known filmmaker and infomercial producer, filed suit over the name.

Lawsuits like these occasionally go the other way, too. In 2007, the Red Hot Chili Peppers filed suit against Showtime over use of "Californication" name.

"'Californication' is the signature CD, video and song of the band’s career," Chili Pepper frontman Anthony Kiedis said in the court filing. "For some TV show to come along and steal our identity is not right." The case was eventually settled out of court.

Editor's Note: Right-click here for a free MP3 of "Perfect Day" from "Evinspacey."