In 1988, singer/songwriter Tom Waits sued the Frito Lay Company for using a sound alike singer imitating Waits' unique vocal style to hawk Salsa Rio Corn Chips on a radio ad. Waits suit sought to preserve his unique style. According to the NY Times:
"It's part of an artist's odyssey," [Waits] said, "discovering your own voice and struggling to find the combination of qualities that makes you unique. It's kind of like your face, your identity. Now I've got these unscrupulous doppelgängers out there - my evil twin who is undermining every move I make."
Waits was awarded $2.6 M by a jury for commercial appropriation (reduced on appeal to $2.5M)
Listen to the radio ad HERE. Below is the song and style copied by the ad:
Always protective, Waits sued again in a Spanish court over the Audi commercial below, copying both his vocal style and his music. Waits was awarded $43,000 for copyright infringement and $36,000 for violation of his "moral rights" as an artist.
Waits' "You're Innocent When You Dream":
Apparently, advertisers had not been paying attention. Waits sued in a Scandinavian court over the following Opel ad copying his unique style, earning a settlement which he contributed to charity. Click on image below to see ad:
To listen to an informative summary report from NPR's All Things Considered, CLICK HERE.
A post with videos on the Midler v. Ford case mentioned in the NPR report may be found HERE. Also see similar posts on Vanna White, Lyndsey Lohan and Kim Kardashian.