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Takin' It to the Lawyers: Bill Murray, Doobie Bros. in Boomer IP Battle

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 07:  Actor Bill Murray plays a shot on the tenth hole during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am at Monterey Peninsula Country Club on February 07, 2020 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
By Andrew Leonatti | Last updated on

As Baby Boomers age, they are constantly confronted by the pop culture luminaries of their salad days "selling out" and becoming "the man."

And now it's come for the Doobie Brothers, a band that got their name simply because they all loved to toke up, and — say it ain't so — Bill Murray, the apex symbol of living your best, authentic life (having the means to do that notwithstanding, of course).

All over some — gulp — golf shirts. Timothy Leary is rolling over in his grave.

Don't Just Listen to the Music — Pay for It

Murray is a golf fanatic, but, proving that you don't have to be a stuffed shirt to appreciate hitting the links, Murray started his own golf clothing line, William Murray. The company produces more colorful golf wear than the average duffer is likely used to.

An ad for William Murray's "Zero Hucks Given" polo ($78 for a polo!) used music from the Doobies' "Listen to the Music," a song about casting off the problems of the day and just listening to those groovy tunes.

That landed Murray in some Black Water.

"It's a fine song," Doobies lawyer Peter Paterno started off in what can only be described as a demand letter for the ages. "I know you agree because you keep using it in ads for your Zero Hucks Given golf shirts. However, given that you haven't paid to use it, maybe you should change the company name to 'Zero Bucks Given.'

"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," Paterno continued. "But you already earned that with those Garfield movies. And you already know you can't use music in ads without paying for it."

For Relaxing Times ... File a Lawsuit

Murray's lawyer Alexander Yoffe fired back by lamely trying to fit a bunch of Doobie Brothers' song names into his rebuttal (who would do that?) and offering the Doobies some free William Murray merchandise.

If a bunch of golf shirts isn't enough to satisfy the Doobies, however, there does not appear to be much that could stop them from pressing their case in court. As the writer of the song, lead Doobie Brother Tom Johnston likely holds the copyright to the song. And U.S. copyright law prohibits using copyrighted work online without the copyright holder's permission.

So when did it stop being about just the music, and all about the money, man?

A long time ago. To believe otherwise is What a Fool Believes.

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