Like Clockwork: Copyright Holders Mistakenly Freak Out About Presidential Candidates Using Their Music
from the again? dept
This seems to happen every four years like clockwork during Presidential elections. Some musician gets upset about a politician he or she disagrees with, making use of his or her music during campaign rallies. This time around the candidate is Newt Gingrich, and the upset musician is songwriter and member of the band Survivor, Frank Sullivan, who co-wrote the song “Eye of the Tiger” which Gingrich has apparently been using during presidential campaigns:
The complaint states that the violation it alleges is intentional since Gingrich is “sophisticated and knowledgeable” concerning copyright laws.
That strikes me as interesting, because I would have to assume that the campaign has paid for standard ASCAP performance license (either that or the locations they use almost certainly have such a license). And if that’s true, then Sullivan has no case. If the venue has a license, they can play whatever they want. Full stop. “Eye of the Tiger” is registered to ASCAP, so that’s all that’s needed. The campaign doesn’t need permission of the copyright holder. The Chicago Sun-Times goes into more detail, where Sullivan insists this isn’t political, he just doesn’t like the song being used without him getting paid. Perhaps he should check his ASCAP statement. If he’s not getting paid, he might want to take it up with them.
That same article also notes that Sullivan co-owns the copyright along with his song writing partner/bandmate, Jim Peterik, who seems to both (sorta, kinda) like Gingrich and not like legal actions:
“My wife is a big fan,” Peterik said. “I’m becoming a fan of Newt Gingrich. He has a mind of his own. He’s not a talking head. Originally, I didn’t like him, but look at the competition. He’s looking better and better.”
Peterik is not a party to the suit that Sullivan filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. They share the copyright, but tend to stay out of each other’s way when it comes to cracking down on infringers.
”I hate suits,” Peterik said. “I hate being in court. I avoid that meticulously. When I [heard about the lawsuit on the radio Monday} I said I’m not surprised, but I’m surprised.”
I say this every time something like this comes up, but even if politicians can make use of such songs without getting permission from the artists, thanks to ASCAP/BMI/SESAC performance licenses, it still surprises me that the campaigns don’t seek out musicians who support them in the first place to get their “okay” just to avoid embarrassing situations like this. Either way, it seems almost certain that this lawsuit is going nowhere fast.