Rolling Stones Tell Trump to Stop Using Their Songs

The Rolling Stones have sent a cease and desist letter to Donald Trump, telling him to stop using their music. They released a statement to the media saying they never gave him permission.

I suggested such a letter two weeks ago when I heard the notes of "Start Me Up" at the end of Trump's victory speech in South Carolina.

I doubt the Stones would let him use their music. They should send a "cease and desist order" telling him they have no sympathy for the devil.

Time Magazine explains why this issue seems to be happening more frequently. [More...]

Example: Jackson Browne sued John McCain and the RNC (they settled out of court.)

Rolling Stone had this article listing 34 artists who fought politicians over the use of their songs. John Mellencamp was one of them.

McCain used the tunes at rallies to underscore his "Country First" message. Mellencamp - who has called himself "as left-wing as you can get" and performed at a John Edwards rally during the 2008 Democratic primaries - asked that the presidential hopeful cease and desist. The rocker also asked Bush to stop using "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." in 2000, and told Salon that he discouraged Reagan from using "Pink Houses" as his campaign song in 1984 when reps reached out.

Result: Four days after Mellencamp's request was made, McCain's campaign announced that it would no longer play either "Our Country" or "Pink Houses" at events.

According to the ASCAP (Using Music in Political Campaigns: What you Should Know), the possible legal actions (notwithstanding a license) include:

Q: If the campaign events are properly licensed, can the campaign still be criticized or even sued by an artist for playing his or her song at an event?

A: Yes. If an artist does not want his or her music to be associated with the campaign, he or she may be able to take legal action even if the campaign has the appropriate copyright licenses. While the campaign would be in compliance with copyright law, it could potentially be in violation of other laws. Specifically, the campaign could be liable under any of the following claims:

(1) "Right of Publicity", which in many states provides image protection for famous people or artists.

(2) The "Lanham Act", which covers the confusion or dilution of a trademark (such as a band or artist name) through its unauthorized use.

(3) "False Endorsement" where use of the artist's identifying work implies that the artist supports a product or candidate.

As a general rule, a campaign should be aware that, in most cases, the more closely a song is tied to the "image" or message of the campaign, the more likely it is that the recording artist or songwriter of the song could object to the song's usage in the campaign.

Q: How can the campaign protect itself against these other claims?

A: If a campaign wants to eliminate any of these claims, particularly if the campaign wants to use a song as its theme, they should contact the management for the artists and/or songwriters of the songs in question and obtain their permission. In addition to permission from management, a separate negotiated license maybe required by the publisher of the composition , and if used, the record label that controls the master recording.

And from Campaign Music and Fair Use: What Are the Rules, published by Law Street (a legal news site written for and by millennials):

Even if the proper licenses are granted by publishers and record labels, the performing groups themselves may be entitled to protections under the right of publicity and the Lanham Act, meaning their permission is essentially required as well.

In short: if you want to use a song to promote your campaign, talk to the song's artist, and his or her record label first.

Prediction: Trump will stop using the Stones' music. Why? He needs to spend his time on more important things, like finding funding for the general election. He announced yesterday he will not self-fund his campaign in the general election as he did in the primaries.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I agree that (none / 0) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu May 05, 2016 at 09:02:23 AM EST
    the Stones have the right to say who can use their music.

    But does anyone believe that anybody will support Trump because some Stones' music was played in the background of a rally?

    No... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by kdog on Thu May 05, 2016 at 01:25:37 PM EST
    but it makes any rally less cool when your playlist is reduced to Ted Nugent's catalog.

    They play Rockin in the Free World (none / 0) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 05, 2016 at 01:55:08 PM EST
    At Southern football games. Josh asked me years ago if anyone in the South listened to the lyrics. I told him I didn't think so. I see Trump got into it with Neil Young over using that song also. Has any Trump supporter actually listened to the lyrics of that song either?

    Just as some... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu May 05, 2016 at 02:01:55 PM EST
    never read past the headline, some never listen past the chorus.  Bruce's "Born in the USA" is another example, Raygun had no clue what he was blasting at his rallies.

    That's really not Jeralyn's point at all. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Thu May 05, 2016 at 01:51:18 PM EST
    Rather, it's the often willful disregard that many of these (mostly GOP) candidates display publicly, with regards to the expressed wishes and personal rights of these artists whose music they appropriate without permission for their own commercial use.

    How hard is it, really, for a political campaign to request written permission prior to using these songs as musical backdrop? Failure to do so is a mark of disdain and disrespect for common courtesy, not to mention for the law itself, and conveys a selfish and foolish notion that the candidate is somehow an exception to the rule.

    And by all rights, that should be a direct reflection upon the character of those who continue to engage is such a disreputable practice, yet who are otherwise personally seeking  positions of public leadership in our greater national community.

    Further, as Jeralyn duly noted, this is hardly the first time that this problem has reared its head with Republican candidates and campaigns. So, if these guys apparently can't be bothered to get it right on an otherwise trivial issue as this, how does such a perpetual contempt for the most basic of legal protocols instill in us any confidence that they'll concern themselves with the details of far more important matters?

    Short answer, it doesn't.


    The oddest thing is ... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Robot Porter on Thu May 05, 2016 at 12:24:57 PM EST
    the song he uses.

    "You can't always get what you want".  Which seems to not so subtly suggest his campaign is as phony as his hair.

    Also odd is his use of Elton John's song "Tiny Dancer"  I don't know what that has to do with his campaign.  Could it be a reference to his lively but abnormally short fingers?

    Personally, I think politicians should be allowed to use any song they want at rallies as long as the blanket license has been paid.

    Only if it rises to the level of a "theme song" do I think it could be seen as a violation of the "right of publicity" or the "Lanham Act".

    I think Hillary Clinton's use of Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" rises to that level.  But Platten has made no objections.  I don't think Trump's use of the Stones' songs has reached that level.

    I think the Stones (none / 0) (#7)
    by Ga6thDem on Thu May 05, 2016 at 02:46:12 PM EST
    should let him play one song over and over at his rallies: Sympathy for the Devil.

    19th Nervous Breakdown? (none / 0) (#8)
    by kdog on Thu May 05, 2016 at 02:58:34 PM EST
    or maybe Gimme Shelter or Jumping Jack Flash since this Trump clown might start a nuclear war, with his big mouth and short temper.

    Nah, they should get stuck (none / 0) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Thu May 05, 2016 at 03:49:12 PM EST
    Playing Cat Scratch Fever over and over again

    I told Mick and Keith this... (none / 0) (#9)
    by bmaz on Thu May 05, 2016 at 03:24:24 PM EST