Toni Basil, known best for her popular single, “Mickey“, is suing South Park, Disney and other companies over the use of the song over the last three decades.
The famous one-hit wonder was released in the UK in 1981, and peeked at number 2. The song is actually a cover from Western-super-Mare group Racey, originally titled “Kitty”. Clearly though, Toni’s version of the song is more recognised, considering its vast popularity and many covers, and now the topic for a copyright case.
Now Toni, 73, has accused these companies of using the song without permission. She is demanding at least $750 for every time her voice, name, the song or even her image was referenced and or used without her permission over the last thirty years, according to a lawsuit made in court in Los Angeles last week.
The document, held by Hollywood industry website Deadline, shows she is targeting numerous companies over their use of “Mickey”.
The popular hit was used in the 2008 South Park episode “About Last Night”. In the scene, Randy Marsh (AKA Stan’s dad), stands on a car and drunkenly chants over her song: “Obama you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind, hey Obama, hey Obama”. Despite the episode being released nearly ten years ago now, Toni claims she was previously unaware of the song appearing in it.
While it definitely isn’t one of the show’s biggest controversies, South Park can never get a break from getting in trouble in some way, even over something small. But perhaps, Toni just wasn’t an Obama fan?
Disney, on the other hand, are being sued over the use of her song to promote a line of clothing.
“Basil’s exclusive right to publicity has been damaged by the coupling with Mickey Mouse and the Disney brand,” the lawsuit stated.
Toni has stated that she has suffered “sleep deprivation, nightmares and anxiety” over the issue, and is also demanding a jury trial.
It just goes to show we should always ask for permission before using anyone’s work, even if the artist in question is hardly active in the entertainment world anymore. Hopefully, the case will be sorted quickly before it escalates any further and it can be put to bed.
However, Toni Basil may have a long, strong case in her corner if she can find even more instances of when her song has been referenced or used without her permission, especially in films, since it’s a very influential song in pop culture. What might hinder this case however is her lack of understanding about “Fair Use” laws which allow for parodies, commentaries, and reviews of existing works to be created and be exempt from copyright claims due to them being made into their own original works by another party. Good luck getting her to understand that one in a court of law.
<Story by Emily Clark>
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