Rob Zombie has settled a copyright infringement lawsuit against auto maker Mazda and its advertising agency over unlawful use of "Demonoid Phenomenon" from 1998's Hellbilly Deluxe.
Lawyers for Mazda Motor of America, Inc., and W.B. Doner & Co. reached an agreement July 3 with legal reps for Zombie and major-label conglomerate Universal Music Group for an undisclosed amount, according to an attorney representing UMG.
Commercials touting Mazda trucks to the tune of Zombie's music began running on broadcast and cable TV in October 1999, until Zombie issued the companies a cease-and-desist letter in January 2000, according to an Interscope Records spokesperson. Zombie filed the copyright infringement suit in Federal District Court in Los Angeles on May 31, 2000, seeking a monetary sum based on Mazda's profits and Zombie's damages.
The case was scheduled to go before a judge on July 16.
For Zombie, the incident wasn't so much a case of copyright infringement as it was a matter of his musical integrity and credibility to his fans.
"They [Mazda and Doner] don't seem to understand that once the cat's out of the bag, it's hard to get him back in there," Zombie said in a statement. "It's like [my policy is] 'I don't do this,' and then there's a car commercial running on television with my music. How do you explain that to every kid, that you didn't sell out and didn't do exactly what you said you weren't going to do? Basically, it's a question of what your reputation is worth."
According to the Interscope spokesperson, W.B. Doner approached Zombie's management company in 2000 with an informal proposal to use excerpts of "Demonoid Phenomenon" in their advertisement. In response, Zombie's camp asked Doner for a formal proposal, complete with the amount of money they'd be willing to pay for the song's use, but it was never made.
The matter was all but forgotten until friend and former White Zombie drummer John Tempesta saw the Mazda spot and told Zombie about it.
Spokespeople for Mazda Motor of America, Inc., and Doner couldn't comment on the settlement and a lawyer for Universal Music Group didn't return calls by press time.
"Someone like Britney Spears doesn't have any integrity to maintain, so it doesn't matter she's a corporate puppet from the get-go," Zombie said in the statement. "But for people who aren't, it's different. I don't want to play that song live and see the kids go, 'Hey, it's that truck song!' Corporate America doesn't understand that some people actually have values about things."
Instead of the four-wheeled comparison, fans might be making a 128-bit one when Zombie takes the stage on this year's Ozzfest, which kicked off Wednesday. The ghoulish rocker's tunes can be heard in titles such as Twisted Metal 4, Grand Turismo 2 and Jet Grind Radio.
[This story was updated on 07.12.02 at 2:37 p.m. ET.]