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Republicans steal property? And, threaten the future …

September 5th, 2008 · No Comments

The McCain campaign and Republican Party have both been aggressive in their use of music, clips from movies, etc without, it seems, even bothering to seek copyright permission despite the promise “to protect the creative industires from privacy.” They have gotten pushback, multiple times, for their unauthorized use (read “theft”) of intellectual property. In many of these cases, the involved artists are actually quite Green and environmentalist in their donation streams and stated interests.

What are some examples?

  • Singer Jackson Browne is suing the McCain campaign and the Ohio Republican Party for copyright infringement because his song “Running on Empty” was used in an ad by the state party, which Browne’s lawyers say “McCain and his campaign were well aware of.”
  • McCain campaign re-cut a web ad after comedian Mike Myers’ publicist complained about the use of footage of Myers and fellow Saturday Night Live alum Dana Carvey’s Wayne’s World characters.
  • The McCain campaign had to pull and re-cut a web ad after Frankie Valli’s record label, the Warner Music Group asserted its copyright claims over the use of the song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
  • Earlier this year, the copyright owners for the “Rocky” theme song “telephoned the McCain campaign to politely complain it was being used without permission.”
  • As noted,

    Ironically, McCain has joked on the campaign trail that he has refrained from using music by his beloved ABBA because of “licensing and other concerns.” “If you’re not careful you can alienate some Swedes,” said McCain.

    Even though this has received some visibility and lawsuits are evidently underway, the problems are not ending. For example, the RNC used Heart’s “Barracuda” as a theme song for Sarah “Pit Bull with Lipstick” Palin. The musicians objected to this unauthorized use of their property and requested that the Republican Party stop using Barracuda (or other Heart music).

    We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored.

    Heart’s request evidently had a powerful impact on the RNC and McCain campaign. Twenty minutes after that post hit the web, “the GOP ended the evening after McCain’s speech with the song, “Barracuda.””  That “request” evidently involved a cease and desist notice to the McCain-Paline campaign which, it seems, was ignored..

    “The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission.”


    Not just about the theft of property rights

    This is not simply a question of “property rights” and intellectual property, although that is clearly on the table. There is also the question of seeming political endorsement. Many of these artists are significant environmental concerns. As to Heart, for example,

    Nancy Wilson: In the interim between the last Heart studio album and since The Road Home, we worked a lot on environmental causes. We did quite a few benefits, played for Al Gore and Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton as well. So we did a lot of benefits, stuff for old growth, a lot of wildlife causes.

    Hmmm … does this seem like a record that would embrace the McCain-Palin ticket?

    The McCain-Palin ticket is far from Green (to the extent it is green, it is awash with green from fossil-fuel contributors). And, at least some of these artists are far from R in their politics. And, these artists are challenging what is going on. Re Jackson Browne,

    Singer and songwriter Jackson Browne is not amused that his song “Running On Empty” has been used in a television commercial for John McCain and against Barack Obama.

    Indeed, with a full litigation tank, Browne has filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles against McCain, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Ohio Republican Party (ORP), accusing them of copyright infringement, statutory violations, and violation of the right of publicity. …

    This is a broad-side of legal complaints against the RNC and ORP. It is hard, from this layman’s perspective, to see their substantive defense to this complaint.

    But why is Browne so outraged?

    Browne’s complaint asserts that he has had a “legacy as an advocate for social and environmental justice” and that he has “closely associated himself with liberal causes and Democratic political candidates.”

    The complaint states that Browne filed the lawsuit “in order to vindicate an egregious, intentional false association” created by agents of John McCain by “suggesting that Browne sponsors and endorses McCain,” which is “a false association that directly conflicts with the political and social values that Browne has espoused and supported throughout his career.”

    There is, for Browne, a clear attempt to take his property and his stature to use in support of anti-environmental causes: namely the McCain for President campaign.

    Imagine …

    Could you imagine a press conference with a number of artists who have had the Republican Party illegally using their intellectual property?

    Imagine a press conference where these varied artists speak strongly of the need to confront global warming, develop a cleaner energy future, and other environmental challenges.

    Imagine that at the press conference, they speak out against the McCain campaign’s and RNC’s disdain for private property rights.

    Imagine that they use these as clear examples of why they so strongly support Barack Obama for President, because of McCain/Palin’s disdain for environmental issues, private property rights, and other fundamental American values.

    Imagine …

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    Tags: 2008 presidential campaign · 2008 Presidential Election · environmental