JWT Slapped With Copyright Suit Over Award-Winning Campaign

A year ago, JWT Puerto Rico was basking in the glow of its success at the Cannes Lions ad festival where a campaign it created for client Banco Popular won multiple lions and a Grand Prix award. It was the first Grand Prix for Puerto Rico, the agency proudly exclaimed at the time. The work subsequently won several Radio Mercury Awards and a Grand Clio.

Now, the agency has been slapped with a copyright infringement suit in connection with the campaign. JWT, JWT USA and Banco Popular have also been named in the suit.

Music publisher Cartagena Enterprises and recording company Rico Records alleged that the agency and its client violated the terms of a contract to produce a derivative work of the hit salsa tune “I Do Nothing.”

The derivative work, called “Moving Forward,” was the centerpiece of the award-winning campaign which was aimed at improving Puerto Rico’s general attitude about work, and hopefully its economic outlook which would directly affect the bank.

According to the plaintiffs, the contract granted rights for a six-month term, was limited to the territory of Puerto Rico and pertained to “certain limited media.”

Media excluded from the usage rights included movie theaters, telephone on-hold music and certain Web sites. But the song aired in those media in violation of the terms, the plaintiffs alleged. And the agency also created “infringing videos” that were used to enter the campaign into awards competitions including Cannes, also in violation of rights terms.

Cartagena and Rico claimed that both the agency and the client boosted revenues through the unauthorized use of the song. And they want their fair share, they said in their complaint.

Last week, JWT and Banco shot back, asking Judge Shira Scheindlin to toss the case out of New York District Court to arbitration, per the terms of the contract. The case, they argued should also be heard in in Puerto Rico, where “nearly all material witnesses are located,” and where most of the “material facts” occurred as well.

JWT and Banco also asserted that the awards submission videos did not violate plaintiffs’ rights. 

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