miss-america

'Miss America' song hits a sour legal note

April 24, 2012 at 7:43 AM ET

Steve Marcus / REUTERS /
Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler is crowned as Miss America 2011.

The Miss America Organization has hit a bum note with the widow of the man who wrote its signature tune.

Phyllis Wayne, whose late husband Bernie Wayne wrote the song "Miss America" (popularly known as "There She Is Miss America"), filed suit against the Miss America Organization, claiming that it has been using her husband's song without the proper license for the last couple of years.

According to the suit, the pageant organization has traditionally obtained "synchronization licenses" to use the song during the televised events. However, the suit claims, starting with the 2011 pageant the organization simply stopped bothering with the license.

"Despite its long history of licensing the right from Waynes to use the Musical Composition in the Pageant, MAO decided beginning in 2011 to infringe the Wayne's rights to a song for which they have become most famous," the suit reads.

In addition to multiple uses of the song during the 2011 and 2012 pageants, the suit -- filed in U.S. District Court in California -- takes issue with the song being included in DVDs and YouTube clips of the pageant.

The Miss America Pageant has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment.

The suit seeks an injunction against the organization preventing it from making further alleged unauthorized use of the tune, plus actual, statutory and enhanced damages, along with court costs and attorney fees.

The plaintiff should probably consider asking the court to ask for points to be deducted for style, poise and grace while she's at it.

-- Pamela Chelin contributed to this report

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