Everett Collection /
31 October 2014Copyright

Michael Jordan advert sparks US election copyright spat

A copyright dispute between the Democrat Party in the US state of Arkansas and two advertising agents has erupted over an advert featuring former basketball star Michael Jordan.

Bernie Pitzel and Ira Antelis, who created an advert in 1991 for energy drink Gatorade, claim that a new radio advert promoting the Democrat Party’s candidate for governor, Mike Ross, uses music and lyrics from its advert.

The pair sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Democrat Party on Tuesday (October 28) demanding that the advertising campaign called ‘I believe in Mike’ be taken off air.

According to the letter, the advertising campaign was produced using “stolen lyrics and music” from the Michael Jordan Gatorade ad, which is known as ‘Be like Mike’.

Doyle Webb, chairman of the state’s rival Republican Party, also issued a statement on the issue, calling on his Democratic counterpart Vincent Insalaco to remove the radio advert.

“At a minimum, Insalaco owes an apology to not only the gentlemen whose property he stole, but also to every voter that he tried to deceive with the use of someone else’s property. He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t hear from Michael Jordan before this is all over,” Webb said.

But Benton Smith, who is representing the state’s Democratic Party, said the adverts did not violate any laws.

“There are no ‘stolen lyrics and music’. In fact, the lyrics are not the same: it [the ad] contains original instrumentation, music and talent,” Smith wrote.

Ross said he had not seen the letter and added that his campaign did not commission the advert.

The election to determine the next governor of Arkansas will be held on November 4.

Ross is vying with Republican Asa Hutchinson, Green Party candidate Joshua Drake, and Libertarian Frank Gilbert to succeed the incumbent governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat.

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