The Song: Negativland “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (1991)
The Plaintiff: Island Records
The Case: Experimental oddballs Negativland poked fun at U2 on this 1991 recording which combined an irreverent run through of the Irish rockers song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on kazoo with an obscene rant by old time radio DJ Casey Kasem sampled on top. U2’s record label Island was not amused and sued Negativland and their label SST Records, claiming the song and its packaging, which featured U2’s logo, violated trademark law.
The Judgment: Despite claiming the song was a parody and thus entitled to fair usage, Negativland quickly capitulated to Island’s requests and SST pulled the record from production. The band used the incident as the basis for their 1995 book and CD, Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2 which resulted in another lawsuit when SST sued Negativland for publishing the label’s confidential financial information and correspondences.