Sunday, September 15, 2013

Unauthorized Use of Copyright By Palin? How About Obama/McCain/Romney And The Rest!

It’s a familiar tune. Every election year it seems we hear the chorus of protests from musicians who are not flattered that their music has been hijacked as the theme song of a political candidate. The song is always the same, and this year is no exception with Governor Palin's SuperPac in the firing line for using a photograph allegedly without permission.

Here's a review of just some of the politicians whose campaigns used copyright items and were subsequently ordered to "cease and desist" or were sued for recompense. To somehow single out Governor Palin as some sort of unique and terrible example of unauthorized use is bizarre-or would be if it was not clear that a leftist attack (again) is under way on her.

Clearly this sort of thing happens often. It is, I believe, generally the result of over enthusiastic campaign teams not dotting I's in the midst of a hectic campaign. Or, as is most likely the case in the SarahPac example using an apparently copyright photograph, the actions of an inexperienced team. 

The fact that thousands of examples of use of the 9/11 photographs in question can be shown points the legal action against SarahPac as being politically motivated. If Jane Smith had used it one doubts in Jane would have heard from the pictures owners who happen to be a media firm.

It is not of course solely an American campaign phenomenon, here is a media report from the Philippines reminding "all 32 senate candidates" that they face 9 years in jail if they use songs for their campaigns without previous authorization!  LINK

To show just how often these things happen, how much fuss is made of them during campaigns and how quickly they are forgotten here are just some examples. First up from Politisite

In 2008, Sam Moore (half of legendary vocal duo Sam & Dave) sent a cease-and-desist letter to Barack Obama’s campaign after his song “Hold On! I’m Coming” was used at several rallies without his permission. Moore, who claimed to support no candidate, felt that the use of his song implied his endorsement of Obama. LINK

There have been many incidents of musicians being opposed to politicians using their music. One of the most publicized was back in 1984 when Ronald Reagan used Bruce Springsteen’s anthem “Born in the USA.” Reagan said, “America’s future rests in a thousand dreams inside our hearts. It rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire: New Jersey’s own Bruce Springsteen.” Springsteen was not pleased, but no legal action was ever filed.

Other songs to ruffle musicians’ feathers were Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” used by Rand Paul, Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty,” used in Republican Party web videos( the subject of a journal analysis! LINK), and Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” played more than once by Mike Huckabee.

[t]he owner of Survivor’s 1982 hit “Eye of the Tiger” sued Newt Gingrich, claiming that he has repeatedly used the song without permission since 2009.  The copyright owner is asking the court to stop Gingrich’s use of the song at campaign rallies, and to award money damages.

Mitt Romney agreed to stop using the song “Wavin’ Flag,” after Somali-born musician K’naan cited political reasons for his demand.

Representative Michele Bachmann received a cease-and-desist letter from musician Tom Petty, demanding that she stop using his song “American Girl” in her presidential campaign.

Tom Petty sent a cease-and-desist to then-Governor George W. Bush for using the song “I Won’t Back Down” at his campaign rallies.

David Byrne, who sued Florida Governor Charlie Crist for using the Talking Heads’ “Road to Nowhere;”

Don Henley, who sued Senate candidate Chuck DeVore of California for use of “Boys of Summer” and

Jackson Browne filed a lawsuit against presidential candidate Senator John McCain for unauthorized use of a portion of Browne’s “Running On Empty” in a campaign commercial.

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