Wednesday, January 04, 2012


Fox News entertainment reporter Hollie McKay apparently thinks musicians' intellectual property belongs to the Collective:

Do Musicians Block GOP Candidates From Using Their Songs?

When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's team was looking for a theme song for his campaign, Kid Rock's hit "Born Free" hit a chord. But instead of doing what countless other politicians before him had done, simply take the song and start blasting it at events, Romney first asked Rock's permission.

...could he have taken this tack because musicians often seem to lean anti-GOP?

Earlier this year, Republican hopeful Michele Bachmann was issued a "cease and desist" letter from rocker Tom Petty's music publisher insisting that she stop playing his "American Girl" at campaign events. The Foo Fighters and John Mellencamp asked John McCain to stop playing their hits during his presidential run in 2008, and McCain settled out-of-court with Jackson Browne last year after the singer-songwriter sued McCain and the Ohio and national Republican committees, accusing them of using his song "Running on Empty" without his permission.

John Hall, a member of the band Orleans, was not happy when George W. Bush played "Still the One" at an event in 2004. The former President was also rebuffed by Tom Petty, John Mellencamp and Sting during his presidential runs for making use of their tracks. And way back in 1984, Bruce Springsteen was unhappy when Ronald Reagan used his hit "Born in the USA."

... On the other hand, Bill Clinton used Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" in his successful 1992 presidential bid, Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry played Springsteen's "No Surrender" in his 2004 campaign, in 2008 Sen. Barack Obama revived Springsteen's "The Rising," and that same year fellow Democrat John Edwards used Mellancamp's "Our Country." ...

So why do Democrats seem to get more free passes then Republicans?

"Musicians are part of the entertainment industry which is mostly anti-Republican. So lefty performers hate having conservatives use their music," says Vice President of the Business & Media Institute and political commentator, Dan Gainor....

I gather from the tone of this that Gainor (and McKay) don't think they should have the right to refuse permission to use their songs for political reasons -- not even John Hall, who went on to serve for a couple of years as a Democratic congressman from upstate New York, should have that right. Even he should be required to surrender his intellectual property rights to a Republican on demand.

If you wrote the song, shouldn't you (or your heirs and assigns) be able to do as you please with it? If you wrote a country song that a Democrat wants to use and you're a Republican, shouldn't you be free to withhold the rights? I don't have a problem with that. Why would I think you have no right to decide that?

The musicians named above are all left-leaning, as far as I know. That's their right, isn't it? It ain't illegal yet, is it?

(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)


PurpleGirl said...

The weirdest part of a number of these songs being used by Republicans is that if you read the lyrics, they just don't represent what the politician wants to use them for. Did the Reagan people really understand what "Born in the USA" was saying?

Unknown said...

Rights are for the right kind of people, real people, not sociocommufascislamic scum.

jeff said...

one question: the article, as quoted, seems to imply that Clinton, Gore, Obama, and Edwards all used the songs without first asking permission of the rights holders, but I don't know this to be the case: maybe the reason that Democrats "get a pass" while Republicans get sued is because the Republicans just don't think to ask before taking.

c u n d gulag said...

I do understand though, that the group 'Josie and the Pussycats" has ok'd Rich Santorum using their song "Backdoor Lover" in his campaign:

I wonder what's stopping him?

And Marcus wanted Michele to use "Dancing Queen," but the rights are tied up in the musical.

Danp said...

I'm not sure bands can prevent politicians from using their songs at rallies, any more than they can stop football stadiums from blasting "We are the Champions", etc. Maybe they have to pay royalties, but I'm not sure the bands can actually choose who uses them. My guess is that from the band's perspective, it's more important to go on record saying they don't support the candidate. And from the candidate's perspective, it's a good idea to ask first, so they don't get embarrassed.

I, for one, will never be able to hear Baba O'Reilly (We won't get fooled again) without thinking about Bush, who used the song in his campaign against Gore.

Steve M. said...

I think you have a point there -- venues get blanket licenses from ASCAP and BMI for a fee based on venue size, then it's OK to play any ASCAP or BMI song at those venues. So maybe it's more a matter of persuasion. (And I do think songwriters and other rights holders, like music publishers, can establish exceptions to blanket approval, though I'm not sure.)

Steve said...

What I've always wondered is why the Pretenders didn't stomp Rush Limbaugh flat years ago for his use of "My City Was Gone" as his theme song. Talk about not understanding the lyrics!

c u n d gulag said...

Maybe they were hoping that some non-reptilian portion of his 'mega-ditto's' choruses brains might register some irony.

If that was the case, it was a false hope.

Rush, as all Conservatives do, suffers from an irony deficiency.

The Eccentric said...

If I remember correctly, Limbaugh did indeed pay for the rights to use the Pretenders song...said money being immediately donated by the Pretenders to left-wing causes.

Rush is just in it for the money and the ego strokes. I doubt he (like most demagogues) believe even a tenth of what comes out of his mouth.

ploeg said...

From Wikipedia:

In 1999, Rolling Stone magazine reported that, according to Hynde's manager, Limbaugh had neither licensed the song nor asked permission to use it. According to Rolling Stone, Hynde took action after Limbaugh told a pair of reporters in 1997 that "it was icing on the cake that it was [written by] an environmentalist, animal rights wacko and was an anti-conservative song. It is anti-development, anti-capitalist, and here I am going to take a liberal song and make fun of [liberals] at the same time." This led Hynde to demand that Limbaugh stop using the song, which he did. However, Hynde did an about-face and offered Limbaugh the use of her song in exchange for his donating of $100,000 to PETA. She later wrote to the organization saying, "In light of Rush Limbaugh's vocal support of PETA's campaign against the Environmental Protection Agency's foolish plan to test some 3,000 chemicals on animals, I have decided to allow him to keep my song, 'My City Was Gone,' as his signature tune...".

BH said...

If the Wikipedia & RS material is accurate, then - unless I'm missing something, which could well be the case - I'd infer that Hynde was OK with her music being used for Rush's assaults on homo sapiens & common decency so long as he paid up & was (at least vocally) on the same side of one animal-rights issue that she was. That would be consistent with her dumping Ray Davies for Jim Kerr, I suppose.

Evan said...

Musicians already don't have that property right; there's a mandatory license statute for playing songs in public. As long as you're giving your speech in a venue that has paid the ASCAP/BMI license fee (which every venue does), you can play any song you want.

Musicians can *ask* you to stop, and it would be crass and rude to continue after that, but perfectly legal.