Music During Campaign Rallies.

copyrightThe political season is in full swing with candidates doing all they can to get those votes in November, and not just for the presidency but for the Senate and House elections as well. Candidates use a variety of tactics to get in touch with potential voters by means of rallies, TV ads, and phone banks, just to name a few.

The use of music during campaign rallies and on TV commercials has been a staple of political campaigns. Candidates want to connect to voters through use of popular songs, but most popular songs are copyrighted, which means that permission from the copyright holder must be obtained before use.

Copyright Laws.

One would think that people running for political office and the people who run their campaigns would understand and respect copyright laws. History has proved that this is not the case. Often candidates play recorded music during their rallies, and quite often, the creators/copyright holders of that music ask them to stop. Other times copyright holders sue.

The campaign of former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz is embroiled in a copyright infringement lawsuit for use of music that is licensed on a no-political-use basis. The songs in question are “Fear of Complacency” by Brad Couture and “Lens” by Sarah Schrachner. The songs were downloaded from Audiosocket, a music licensing company, by an ad agency working for the Cruz campaign. The two songs were then used in promotional material for the campaign even though the terms of use prohibit using the music for “political purposes.” According to the complaint, the Cruz campaign continued using the songs even after they were asked to stop.

Eye of the Tiger.

The court has so far denied a motion to dismiss by the Cruz campaign.

The Cruz campaign was not the only campaign that ran afoul of copyright law. Mike Huckabee’s campaign settled out of court in a copyright dispute over use of the song “Eye of the Tiger.” The campaign paid the copyright holder, Frankie Sullivan, $25,000. The campaign attempted to argue fair use in regards to the iconic song before the settlement was reached.

Bruce Springsteen. Born in the USA.

The clash between political campaigns and music artists is nothing new. Back in 1984, the Reagan campaign was asked by Bruce Springsteen to stop using the song “Born in the USA.” And more recently, the Donald Trump campaign was asked to stop using the Queen song, “We are the Champions.”

The people who want to be elected to be our leaders should understand that copyright laws, like other laws, are for everyone. There is no political exemption.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.

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