Last Friday, Justin Timberlake unveiled the new single off of the forthcoming second installment of The 20/20 Experience, in store on September 30. The song is titled “Take Back the Night” – and much to the surprise of those who recognize the name of the well known sexual-assault awareness foundation – the title had nothing to do with the Take Back the Night organization and its trademarked name.
Lawyers for the foundation, which dates back to 1973, quickly sent a letter to Timberlake over using the trademarked name without permission, particularly in light of the song’s sexual theme. “The lyrics are definitely very sexual and not at all clearly anti-sexual violence,” Take Back The Nights’ executive director Katherine Koestner told Radar. “‘Use me,’ for example, is not a great phrase for anyone affiliated with the organization.” According to Koestner, “Normally entities as large as Justin Timberlake do very kind and thoughtful things to support our cause.”
Timberlake acted quickly to rectify the situation. He issued a formal apology to the group, stating that he was unfamiliar with TBTN or its mission before writing the song and expressing his hope that the song would help spread the word about its work. He told Radar Online:
“Upon the release of my new single ‘Take Back The Night’, I was made aware of an organization of the same name called The Take Back The Night Foundation. I wanted to take this opportunity to let all know that neither my song nor its lyrics have any association with the organization. As I’ve learned more about The Take Back The Night Foundation, I’m moved by its efforts to stop violence against women, create safe communities and encourage respectful relationships for women — Something we all should rally around. It is my hope that this coincidence will bring more awareness to this cause.”
For their part, TBTN has opted not to pursue legal action against Timberlake, choosing instead to focus on their mission of creating “safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives” and working to spread the word about the very important work that they do. “It just shows how far we have to go when Take Back the Night as a historic movement to end sexual violence in all forms is still not widely enough known, according to Mr. Timberlake, that he claims he didn’t know that we existed,” TBTN’s Koestner told Rolling Stone. “It shows exactly how much work we have to do as an organization and as a cause to end sexual violence to get our visibility increased in pop culture.”
“Take Back The Night” is the follow-up single to Timberlake’s wildly popular tracks “Mirrors” and “Suit and Tie”: