Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Republicans and property rights: One rule for lunch counters, another for rally music

As I've documented before (here and here), there are two consistent patterns when Republicans select pop music for campaigns and rallies:

(1) They tend to listen too much to the chorus and not enough to the verse.

(2) They mostly couldn't care less about the intellectual property rights of the music's owner.

Here's the latest example:

Song: The Talking Head's "Road to Nowhere" (1985)

GOP campaign wanting it: Florida governor Charlie Crist, for an attack ad against 2010 GOP primary rival Marco Rubio.

Lyric making it an unlikely choice for a GOP campaign: "They can tell you what to do / But they'll make a fool of you / And it's all right, baby it's all right . . . We're on a road to nowhere."

Other warning signs: [Talking Heads front man David] "Byrne's lawyer Lawrence Iser also represented [Jackson] Browne when the singer sued John McCain over his unauthorized use of 'Running on Empty.' (The suit that was eventually settled for an undisclosed sum.) In Browne's settlement, the Republican Party was ordered to 'respect and uphold the rights of artists and to obtain permissions and/or licenses for copyrighted works where appropriate.'"

Quote: "'I was pretty upset by that,' Byrne told Billboard. Even though Warner Bros has managed to get the campaign ad pulled, Byrne says that 'the damage had already been done by it being out there. People that I knew had seen [the ad] so it had gotten around. It's about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for.' Byrne is suing for $1 million because it's the amount he's typically offered for use of his songs in commercials."

Did the GOP have permission to use it? No.

Used it anyway? Yes.

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