Last month it was singer Jackson Browne suing
the McCain campaign for using his song in a commercial. As we noted at the time, since it was used in a commercial, it was most likely infringing, but if McCain wanted to use it at an event, he could as long as he paid the proper performance licensing fees. So, now we have another situation where exactly that scenario has happened. At the Republican National Convention earlier this week, the speakers played the Heart
song "Barracuda" for VP candidate Sarah Palin (who apparently went by the nickname "Sarah Barracuda"). This is perfectly legal, assuming that the RNC has paid the required performance license, and there's no reason to think they didn't, given how much music was used at the convention.
But, that's apparently not good enough for the band, who complained and had its label, Sony BMG, and its publisher Universal Music Publishing send cease-and-desist letters to the campaign
. On what legal basis? They don't seem to have an answer for that. The whole thing is kind of silly. There's almost certainly no legal leg to stand on here, but it's surprising that the RNC wouldn't check first, given how others, like Browne, have reacted and the fact that the press would almost certainly cover the story (as they are). So, while there may be no legal basis for the complaints, it still is surprising that the RNC and/or the McCain/Palin campaign wouldn't bother to first check with the band to see if the members would be upset about the usage.