Reggae singer Eddy Grant may succeed where the attorney general of New York state and other powerful figures have struggled – by forcing Donald Trump to answer questions under oath in a legal proceeding.
Grant sued the former president and his campaign over the use of the song Electric Avenue in an ad in 2020.
In the ad, Grant’s song plays over an animation of Joe Biden traveling slowly in a handcar, after a Trump campaign train passes at high speed. Remarks from Biden are also heard.
According to Grant’s lawsuit: “As of 1 September 2020, the video had been viewed more than 13.7m times; the tweet containing the video had been ‘liked’ more than 350,000 times, re-tweeted more than 139,000 times, and had received nearly 50,000 comments.”
Grant claims copyright infringement and seeks $300,000 in damages. Trump has failed to have the suit dismissed.
Lawyers for the former president have claimed fair use, saying the ad was satire, exempt from copyright law, and used footage reposted without knowing its origin. They have also said Trump cannot be sued because of “presidential absolute immunity”.
Last September, Judge John Koeltl wrote: “Defendants have offered no justification for their extensive borrowing.”
This week, in a letter to the judge reported by Business Insider, a lawyer for Grant said he wrote “with consent from defendants Donald J Trump and Donald J Trump for President, Inc … to request a 60-day extension for the parties to complete discovery”.
Exchange of documents had been completed, the letter said, but “additional time is needed to schedule and take the depositions of both parties”.
If the case is not settled and the new schedule is agreed, Trump and Grant will be deposed by 21 June.
Elsewhere in New York, Letitia James, the state attorney general, is trying to compel Trump to sit for deposition in her civil investigation of his business practices.
This week, James asked an appeals court to uphold a ruling requiring the former president to answer questions under oath.
James, who also wants to force Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump to be deposed, has said she has uncovered evidence the Trump Organization may have misstated the value of assets on financial statements for more than a decade.
Trump rose to prominence in the 1980s. So did Grant.
Electric Avenue was a hit in 1983, reaching No2 in the UK and US. Discussing how he wrote it, Grant told the Guardian in 2018: “My big songs, like Electric Avenue, tend to come quickly. It’s like visiting the bathroom – you’ve really got to go.”
As it happens, Electric Avenue is a political song.
“I’d watched the Brixton riots unfold on television,” Grant said. “I’d seen the Notting Hill riots starting a few years previously.
“I wrote down: ‘Now in the street there is violence,’ and the song just flowed from there. I had been talking to politicians and people at a high level about the lack of opportunity for black people.”