Legal papers before the New York court show how, by September last year, the campaign video tweet had been viewed more than 13.7 million times, been ‘liked’ more than 350,000 times and retweeted 139,000 times attracting nearly 50,000 comments. The video was later removed by Twitter following the copyright challenge.
Despite Grant offering to settle last year, Mr Trump’s lawyers prepared a case claiming the lawsuit should be kicked out.
They submitted a motion to dismiss claiming the music was played in the video under “fair use”, a doctrine allowing copyright-protected material to be reproduced without permission under special circumstances. They also insisted it was used for satirical purposes, rather than to disseminate the song itself.
But in September, US District Court Judge John Koeti, rejected the motion to dismiss because use of the song amounted to “wholesale copying of music to accompany a political campaign ad”.
The latest papers, which include the presidential immunity defence among other legal arguments, were filed in the last few days by Mr Trump’s lawyers.
‘This will also be rejected by the court in due course’
Grant’s lawyer, Brian Caplan of Reitler Kailas & Rosenlatt, told the Sunday Telegraph: “No president is above the law. Donald Trump, as President, constantly complained about China’s disregard of US intellectual property rights because it behooved him to do so.
“However, with respect to Eddy Grant, Mr Trump has in fact done exactly what he accused China of doing. He has disregarded and violated Mr Grant’s rights in Electric Avenue, his signature work.
“Claiming “Presidential absolute immunity”, after his defense of “fair use” was soundly rejected by the court, is a ridiculous and desperate position which will also be rejected by the court in due course.”
Electric Avenue was released on Grant’s Killer on the Rampage album. It became one of the most well-known songs of 1983, in part because its accompanying video was well received on MTV. The song reached number two in the charts and lost out on the Grammy Award for Best R&B song to Billie Jean by Michael Jackson.
Grant, whose other hits include I Don’t Wanna Dance, now lives in the Caribbean.
A number of musicians, including the Rolling Stones and Neil Young, have complained that Trump has used their music without permission.