Can musicians persuade politicians to stop playing their songs? – FindLaw


Tulsa, Oklahoma - June 20: US President Donald Trump speaks at an election rally at the Central Bank of Korea Center, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Trump holds his first political gathering since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic at the Bank of Korea Center today as infection rates in Oklahoma continue to rise.  (Photo by Win McNamee / Getty Images)

Although the artist may be the sound of the song, he rarely has complete control over where and when the music is played. Musicians have warned President Donald Trump on numerous occasions that they want him to stop using their music at rallies or in videos. But do they have the legal right to demand a stop?

Video copyright

Song authors receive automatically Copyrights Of their original creation. US copyright laws Banning publishing copyrighted works online without permission – so if Trump uses a song in a video without consent, copyright holders can file a copyright infringement claim.

This happened in 2019 when The president tweeted an edited video Which included parts of the song and a video of Nickelback’s song “Illustrated”. The band responded via legal channels, and the video was quickly deleted. Why then do artists have the added difficulty of distancing their music from political rallies?

License rights

Political campaigns usually buy the rights to play music in public for their events. these Licenses grant broad access To thousands of songs that a politician can then use at rallies, conferences, and more, as long as the music is not used digitally without permission.

This means that if an artist’s song is part of a licensing agreement and is played at a campaign event without his wish, they usually have little legal recourse outside of sending a cease and desist letter.

Musicians who have tried to persuade Trump to stop playing their music in this way include, but are not limited to:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • Pharrell Williams
  • panic! at the disco

When all else fails, the attorney arrives

Artists like Neil Young who complained about politicians’ use of their music were frustrated Their requests are rejected. Stricter legal measures may be key to ensuring that politicians comply with the artist’s request not to play their music at political events.

Stephen Tyler’s attorney was successful In getting Trump events to agree to stop using Aerosmith’s music by invoking the Lanham Act, which gives copyright holders some protection against uses of their works that give false impressions. Tyler’s attorney argued that the use of her client’s music at Trump rallies gave consumers the impression that Tyler supported Trump, and the rights to the song were restricted and subsequently lost by Trump. Rihanna’s actors used similar tactics to stop Trump from using her music.

Although the results are not guaranteed, and musicians certainly do not have the natural right to prevent politicians from using their music, it can be done. As more and more lawsuits develop on the topic, more and more politicians may find themselves learning this You can’t always get what you want.

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