John Oliver's Story On Campaign Music And Copyright Is… Wrong

from the this-again? dept

Yes, let’s start with the obvious: John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” is a comedy program meant to entertain and is not meant to be journalism. It’s a point that Oliver himself has made repeatedly. But others disagree with him, pointing out that his show regularly does actual journalism. The fact that he’s hired a bunch of journalists on his team kind of says a lot. Also, according to multiple people I know who have been interviewed for stories on his show, while his focus is on making things funny, his team also spends a lot of time making sure they get the details right. It’s why we so frequently end up posting his videos on stories that relate to Techdirt topics — because they’re not only entertaining, but are also generally dead on in accuracy. It’s why we’ve posted his videos on net neutrality, corporate sovereignty, encryption, surveillance, civil asset forfeiture and patent trolls.

But this past weekend, he not only covered last week’s Republican National Convention, but also, separately, the fact that representatives for both Queen and the Rolling Stones complained publicly about the RNC using their music in prominent parts of the convention. Oliver got together a bunch of famous musicians (many of whom have protested politicians using their music) to sing a song telling politicians not to use their songs, claiming that it’s “stealing” and unauthorized because the politicians didn’t reach out to get permission.

This is flat out wrong in most situations. As we’ve pointed out again and again and again and again, in nearly all cases, politicians using music at an event have the proper licenses. They don’t need to get permission from the musicians so long as either the campaign or the venue have ASCAP or BMI blanket licenses, which they almost always do. The whole point of ASCAP/BMI licenses is that you don’t need to get individual permission from the artists or their publishers.

There are instances, occasionally, where politicians ridiculously don’t have such a license, but it’s pretty rare. And there may be a few other narrow exceptions, such as if there’s an implied endorsement by the musicians, but that’s rarely the case.

Unfortunately, the song from John Oliver and friends ignores all of that, even stating directly at one point that for a politician to use music, you first have to call the publisher. That’s wrong. ASCAP and BMI already have taken care of that.

Perhaps this isn’t a huge deal, but one would hope that Oliver would actually get the basic facts right on this too, because every election season this issue comes up and spreading more misinformation about it doesn’t help.

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Comments on “John Oliver's Story On Campaign Music And Copyright Is… Wrong”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Pick your targets better

Perhaps, but I think a more likely reason is that the ones talking haven’t done enough research on the matter, and are unaware of how mandatory licencing works.

To be sure with copyright constantly trumpeted as being ‘To protect the artists(the public can get bent)’, the idea that an artist could have no say in who uses their music, even if it’s someone or some group that they vehemently disagree with or flat out loathe does seem rather contradictory, but such is music licencing, and if certain individuals, musician or otherwise have a problem with that they they need to address mandatory music licencing, not the people they don’t like using their music after they pay for it.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Pick your targets better

Like it or not, copyrighted items, e.g. songs, are not the property of the artists, so attempting to control what is done with their songs is plain stupid.

If they want ASCAP and BMI to withhold licenses for politicians they don’t like to use their works without their approval they’ll have to bake that into their agreements with those agencies. Until then, they need to stop whining.

I appreciate that they don’t want to be seen to endorse politicians they don’t like, fair enough, but they’re going about expressing their disapproval in entirely the wrong way.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Pick your targets better

If the songs are included in a blanket license, the artist has no control over how the song is used. They can’t deny an organization from using a song.

Copyright was originally intended (and really should be) about wresting works away from the creator and forcing them into the public domain so anyone can use them.

Copyright law provided a limited time period during which the author has some control and monetization over the work. Copyright, to get back to the real purposes, needs to be a set number of years, not a nebulous life + 50, or 70, or 90, or whatever politicians get paid for that sessions. Ideally, works continue to come up for renewal, but renewals shouldn’t be automatic.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: A supposed short copyright actually helps illustrate the meat of the matter.

We Are the Champions was released in 1977, so with a short (28 year) copyright term, it would be in the public domain now, which would mean that Trump and the RNC would have the right to play it.

The matter remains that Mr. Mercury would b marginalized by Trump / RNC policy so using his work to promote such a platform would be regarded in bad taste. (Then again — and I’m guessing here — Freddie, were he alive, might have enjoyed the irony, so long as Trump didn’t actually win.)

Though, also, bad taste seems to run epidemic in polotics in general, let alone the GOP and its bedfellows.

Baron von Robber says:

Aye, was disappointed in the same when watching Oliver last night. ASCAP and BMI is where they get the license. But, if I were a candidate, I would get the artist’s permission before licensing. Not because it’s needed, but because you would want their support as well. ASCAP and BMI just want the money.

Ben (profile) says:

I thought so...

While watching the show with my family I pointed out that I thought that it was wrong: you just purchase a license and “your fine” — for values of “fine”. If you are going to use a specific song/anthem for your campaign, however, it would be stupid to not approach the musician/author to head off/avoid the Drop Kick Murphy response.

The musicians can’t stop you from using their song, but they can certainly give you bad publicity.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: I thought so...

Legally you don’t need to contact the musicians, no, but yeah, unless you know for a fact that the band who’s music you are using supports you and/or your position not asking ahead of time is just begging for a PR black-eye, giving them a perfect opportunity to note that they do not in fact support you, whether or not you are using their music.

Ben (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I thought so...

And the first example was “We are the champions” by Queen (and the late Freddie Mercury who oddly remains dead rather than coming back to life to attack Trump…)

The real amusing part of the whole video is the choices of music & performers by the RNC. Queen? Rolling Stones? Can’t they at least support American musicians? “Can’t get no satisfaction”?? Really?? Was that a prediction?

Anonymous Coward says:

Like saying that just because you paid for that dinner..

.. doesn’t mean you get to actually eat it. Oh no, you have to then ask the the chef’s permission for each bite. Maybe even get more permission to swallow. This is the mindset of ‘permission society’ supporters and the way they would like for things to be. Some of them try to pretend that it already is.

Gwiz (profile) says:

They don’t need to get permission from the musicians so long as either the campaign or the venue have ASCAP or BMI blanket licenses, which they almost always do.

Correct me if I am wrong here, but I thought the ASCAP or BMI licenses covered music being played at the specific venue only and that a completely different license must be negotiated for the rights to play the song on a TV broadcast.

Now I realize that there wasn’t a “RNC Convention” show per se, but I would assume that the RNC provided some of the video feeds, especially during the speeches, to eliminate the need for multiple cameras everywhere. So wouldn’t the RNC be considered a producer of the video and therefore without the a fair use defense, like the news organizations reporting on the event would have?

Anonmylous says:

Re: Re:

BMI covers performance of in-business/venue music and video performances.

This covers the actual RNC convention gathering.

ASCAP covers transmission via broadcasting. This covers televised broadcasts.

If the RNC got both licenses, then they were covered, no matter how the artists feel about “their music” being used.

Sadly, its not “their music” for many of them of course, they signed their copyrights in most of their performances away to the record labels long before they became popular. If more of these artists understood this, they would understand how fucked up the music biz really is and might actually be able to start coming together to change it.

Still, they’d never want to let go of that life+ heat death of the universe term on copyrights of course.

David says:

That's the good thing when selling your soul:

After having sold your soul to the licensing groups, you can still both get your percentages and put up a public spectacle. The licensing groups will not interfere with your drama since they have nothing to gain by pointing out that you’ve legally forsaken your soul, and the drama will be uninterrupted by legal action (during which you would have to stop with quite a bit of public outrage) since there is, as everybody involved knows, absolutely no standing for those who have passed on their copyright to a licensing group providing guaranteed venue-based standard licensing rates.

Your signature in blood means what’s written in the contract.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

I think the embarrassment that needs addressing...

…is that sometimes the artists whose music you use disagree with your politics, and they will voice that effect in this age of the internet and social networking. And that will make news.

Really, these guys should have enough interns and enough clout to be able to contact the artist or his / her representation to make sure he / she personally won’t object.

…or, of course, risk scandal.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: The last time[I]saw an artist crying actually have any impact on a campaign?

I have no idea. But embarrassments are embarrassments, whether it’s Quayle misspelling Potato(e) or George W. Bush’s favorite childhood book being one that wasn’t published yet when he was a kid (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) most of them just look stupid but are brushed off some will become part of the US lexicon of politicians being silly. And some might even make someone seem folksy.

But generally, using an artist’s work without their permission will make a politician look like he thinks he’s privileged, that he can take the little folk for granted. Even in the cases of popular music artists who aren’t really all that little.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The last time[I]saw an artist crying actually have any impact on a campaign?

That’s probably the best explanation I’ve heard for the incident.

I’d rather Bush interpreted the question as his favorite book for kids (rather than his favorite book when he was a kid) than consider the implications that he had literacy problems or just lied for sake of lying.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: I think the embarrassment that needs addressing...

.is that sometimes the artists whose music you use disagree with your politics, and they will voice that effect in this age of the internet and social networking. And that will make news.

Plus of course the purpose of copyright is not and has never been to prevent usage by someone in some cause that the creator disagrees with. It is designed to protect their financial/commercial interest only.

Even in the extreme case where one might successfullly argue that the usage had damaged the artist’s public image and hence impacted his/her sales it would be a case under trademark or publicity rights law and most definitely NOT under copyright law.

JMT says:

Re: Playing a song is not an endorsement

“The artist is then required to come out and say the Republican candidate cannot use their song.”

The artist is not required to say anything, and the whole point of the article is to point out that in most cases the artists can’t truthfully claim the use is unauthorized, illegal or infringement. They’re more than welcome to yell from the rooftops that the use is not approved by them, they hate the person using it and the song means the opposite of what the person using it thinks. But that’s all.

Having said that, I’m constantly amazing by politicians using songs without first checking to see if the artist is going to publicly shame them as a result. Some clearly don’t even read the lyrics beyond the catchy main chorus line.

Musicians Unite says:

Re: Re: Playing a song is not an endorsement

If a candidate who has no shame, having used some song on the fly for a political rally without the artist’s consent, knowing legally he or she doesn’t have to, can’t dance the old two step around the ranting and raving of that artist’s dissent, then what, they’re going to end up looking like the guy on the Burger King commercial looking around the room for even one vote, because of the 10 Chicken nuggets for a $1.50? That’s GOLDEN.

shanen (profile) says:

Confusing "legal" with "right"

Just because something is legal does not make it right or moral. Especially not on the word of a lawyer whose professional training is mostly about ignoring right and wrong.

Not sure that TechDirt article was written by a lawyer. Couldn’t find the attribution, but it sure reads like a legal shill working for Trump.

The opinion of the creator should count. The fans like music because they agree with the creator’s message, and the creator has every right to be angry when the music is used to fluff up propaganda. Even angrier when the creator knows the propaganda is a passel of lies (AKA “Trump said it”).

Trump has ridden free publicity to the door of the White House, but now he wants to block anyone else from using free publicity against him? If hypocrisy was fatal, the so-called Republican Party would have died out a long time ago. Con Man Donald has NO connection to Honest Abe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Confusing "legal" with "right"

In europe the opinion of the author does matter. Continental law has the concept of “moral rights” that are distinct from the copyright. Generally you can not transfer moral rights the way you can a copyright.

From the Berne Convention:

Independent of the author’s economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to the said work, which would be prejudicial to the author’s honor or reputation.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Confusing "legal" with "right"

No, this is specifically about incorrect legal claims of copyright infringement. I don’t know if the moral rights clauses in some European countries would cover this (generally the same countries where you cannot sign away your copyright), but this is the US. You can make a moral argument about it, but it isn’t relevant to what was said, nor to the actual law, regardless of what any lawyer has to say about it from either side.

Further, I don’t know how this sounds remotely like shilling for Trump, regardless of how much you dislike Trump or the facts about copyright. A Trump lawyer could shill or not all they want, the musicians have zero case. They are certainly free to say how much they dislike having their music used. I mean, I’d probably be irritated.

The attribution is on the immediate left,with the posting time, for every article. In this case, it is Mike Masnick, the man who “hates it when copyright law is enforced”, according to the wisdom of some Annoynymous Dude. So you will probably find him shilling for the public against wholly ridiculous copyright laws which benefit large corporations and rarely benefit creators much.

JMT says:

Re: Confusing "legal" with "right"

“Just because something is legal does not make it right or moral.”

Nothing in this article claims otherwise, just like in the many other articles Techdirt has written on this topic over the years.

“The opinion of the creator should count.”

Legally it should not count. That would be a terrible slippery slope to head down.

“The fans like music because they agree with the creator’s message, and the creator has every right to be angry when the music is used to fluff up propaganda.”

Thank you Captain Obvious. Nobody here has ever claimed otherwise.

Aludra says:

Re: Confusing "legal" with "right"

Just because something is legal does not make it right or moral.

No, it sure doesn’t. What is neither right nor moral is to sell the rights, then go around pretending that you didn’t do so and accusing others of dishonesty when it in actuality it is you that is being dishonest.

That may not be “illegal”, but it sure isn’t right.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Confusing "legal" with "right"

“The opinion of the creator should count.”

And it does count.

“The fans like music because they agree with the creator’s message”

This is a very shaky assumption. Lots of fans of particular music are fans despite not agreeing with the message. Lots of fans of particular songs don’t even understand what the songs are actually saying (e.g. “Born to Run”, “Every Breath You Take”, etc.)

Anonymous Coward says:

If the list of immoral behaviors indulged in a typical campaign rally were sorted by degree of evil, “legal use of commercial products from sources which are not campaign supporters” could not possibly appear in the first thousand entries.

If the list of stupid behaviors indulged in a typical campaign rally were sorted by potential for negative PR, it’s possible “serving Nabisco crackers when the Nabisco CEO hates your guts” might appear somewhere on the list. But … I can’t imagine why anyone other than the gruntled CEO would care.

RespectTheArtists says:


Weird Al has not once put out a parody from any musician when he’s legally entitled to because he smartly asks the artist first.

Mike, it’s not about legal entitlement, it’s about respecting the artist and their contributions, something Weird Al gets right and most politicians don’t get at all – you know that little word with so much power: respect!

I would hate to live in a world where every artist would need to consult IP lawyers before they they wrote their first song, before they even had a label’s backing.

It’s about a lack of respect for Artists.
Those in power don’t give a damn.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WeirdAlGotItRight

Weird Al talks to all the artist now, but he used to contract with labels. He changed after Coolio was reportedly upset about Amish Paradise.

Also, while I generally try to respect the art and the work that went into it, I don’t think there’s any reason to respect how the artist feels about how I use the art. If you bought a painting and hung it in your bathroom, then found out that the artist hated it when his painting was in bathrooms, would you have the same reaction? What if you bought it in order to burn it? Surely that would hurt the artist’s feelings.

You make things, you express things; sometimes they get used or interpreted in ways you can’t imagine. Sometimes they get used in ways that would shock you, or that you would despise. I can’t see that it matters when it’s art any more than I would care that an architect objects to someone filming pornography in a house he designed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: WeirdAlGotItRight

All that matters is that the artist is legally compensated when they sell/lease their work.

After selling their work I don’t care what the artist thinks I will do what I want with the content other than copy it and try to profit off the copies.

If the content was leased then the artist might have some say in who it is leased to. However in the case of music the recording studios bought the work from the artist and can/will lease it to anyone with money. Law also forces the music of be licensed in certain cases.

Artist can scream all they want about respect for themselves but unless they retain full ownership of the music they can go blow it out their twitter account all day long.

Now is it a nice courtesy to gain support from the artist, sure. But it is not required under law today. So until they show more respect for themselves b retaining ownership control I will have no respect for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: WeirdAlGotItRight

This just seems confused. No one “owns” the music. Someone holds a limited monopoly on some aspects of the work. Whether that’s the artist or their publisher/label, it doesn’t matter; there’s no ownership involved. The artist can’t transfer, sell, or lease the music. They can only set contract terms for that government-granted, limited monopoly.

If you choose to respect an artist less because of their business decisions, good or ill, that’s your decision, but it doesn’t have any bearing on how we should treat the usage of a work of art or how the artist feels about that usage. Personally, my respect for an artist or their works has little relationship to how I perceive their business acumen.

JMT says:

Re: WeirdAlGotItRight

“Mike, it’s not about legal entitlement, it’s about respecting the artist and their contributions…”

But this article clearly is about legal entitlement, and when artists falsely claim it. Respecting the artist and their contributions is a completely different story (one Techdirt entirely agrees with you on). Being respected doesn’t allow you to make legally false claims. Why is that so hard for many to understand?

Rana says:

Re: WeirdAlGotItRight

What makes you think “artists” deserve more “respect” than everyone else?

For example, if I build and sell a house, should I then, out of “respect”, get to say who gets to use it afterwards? If “artists” get to, then why not everyone else? Lemme guess, “artists” are “special”, right? Pfft.

(aside: Some builders tried that by putting in legal deed restrictions that prohibited their houses from ever being sold to a black person, for example. Luckily, that kind of crap was outlawed.)

Peter Monkey says:

Re: Re: WeirdAlGotItRight

That’s a poor analogy in respect to the fact we are discussing politicians using some music for their campaigns that are definitely furthering their carreers and should they not want to consider the artist(s) who have created a song that may falsly be constued as political support from the artist(s).

Richard (profile) says:

Re: WeirdAlGotItRight

It’s about a lack of respect for Artists.
Those in power don’t give a damn.

and it is up to the voters to vote in someone who does.

The fact is that not everything that is immoral is illegal – and with good reason.

The moment you start to confuse the two then you are in worse trouble than you could possibly arrive at by simply not being very moral.

As C.S. Lewis wrote “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Scote (profile) says:

Oliver should know better...

John Oliver should know better. The Daily Show and Last Week Tonight rely heavily on fair use, so he should at least be familiar with the concept that not every use of copyrighted material requires individual permission from the writers or performers associated with it.

Oliver is usually good about nuance, but not this time. If can pull in that many music stars on short notice, surely he also has the resources to talk to an IP attorney about how blanket licenses work. This is my first disappointment with Oliver.

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Not exactly.

I think you’re reading into this too much. Clearly there’s no legal basis for preventing these campaigns from using these songs. If there were, the artists would be following that avenue instead of making an appeal to emotion!

I saw the segment last night, and not once was I given the impression that the campaigns were engaging in illegal behavior, despite not knowing about the licensing deals at all. (Though I would have liked to find out about that in the segment.) The song did get a bit heavy handed with using “stealing”, but I thought it was a bit of deliberate satire, and, if not, I’ve learned long ago to read between the lines whenever anybody talks about theft of IP.

The artists in question are unhappy about unwillingly “supporting” candidates they don’t like, understandably. Yes, their deals with the record labels and publishers enable this, but they put enormous pressure on artists to sign up. Many don’t know what they’re getting into. The record labels prey on artists, yet people keep blaming the victims.

So, they can’t pursue legal action. They can’t revoke their license. What can they do? Make an appeal to emotion to a receptive audience, which might make politicians think twice before using a song without the artist’s support, or potentially face some negative publicity.

JBDragon (profile) says:

Re: Not exactly.

We’re in 2016 now. The Internet is everywhere. Who doesn’t know that labels will screw you over? Especially Artists!!! This is why a number of them have their own labels.

The simple fact of the matter is you don’t have to sign your life away. You can create your music yourself and put in on itunes and cut out the middle men. If you do sell your soul, don’t bitch about what happens to that music down the road. It’s no longer yours, it’s the labels!!!

Simple fact of the matter is the Artists rarely make anything from Album or song sales anyway. They make their money Touring and selling merchandise.

Once you sell your Art, be it a SONG, PAINTING, STATUE, whatever, it’s no longer yours. I can have my dog crap on it. Hang it in the bathroom. Burn it. What you say no longer matters and I could care less.

John Oliver finally got a topic completely WRONG!!! How that happened?

JMT says:

Re: Not exactly.

“The song did get a bit heavy handed with using “stealing”, but I thought it was a bit of deliberate satire…”

While the word ‘stealing’ has different interpretations depending on which side of the argument you’re on, the ‘sue’, as in bring legal action, does not. It didn’t seem satirical to me, it seemed ignorant. I’m a huge fan of Oliver’s work, and Last Week Tonight in particular, but this seems like a real clanger to me.

“Many don’t know what they’re getting into. The record labels prey on artists, yet people keep blaming the victims.”

Between Michael Bolton, Cyndi Lauper, John Mellencamp, the Wilson sisters, Sheryl Crow and the others, there are many, many decades of music industry experience involved here. They’re not they noobs you speak of, they know exactly what the situation is. I wouldn’t call them victims either, they’re the very lucky winners of the music industry lottery.

“So, they can’t pursue legal action. They can’t revoke their license. What can they do? Make an appeal to emotion to a receptive audience, which might make politicians think twice before using a song without the artist’s support, or potentially face some negative publicity.”

That’s exactly what they can do, and if Oliver’s story had not used the words ‘unauthorized’, ‘illegal’, or ‘sue’, it would’ve been perfect. I loved it, it was hilarious even though I knew those aspects were completely wrong.

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not exactly.

I wouldn’t call them victims either, they’re the very lucky winners of the music industry lottery.

Yeah, they are the ones who generally get at least some royalties out of the bizarre calculations of various collections societies. The far greater number of “lesser artists”, on whose work performance royalties are paid, but who are “too small” to be paid themselves, effectively additionally subsidize the big names. Hm, who are the victims here. Do many of the big ticket winners ever whine much about that?

Never mind some of these acts could buy back their copyrights. That doesn’t alter mechanical rights, though.

Berenerd (profile) says:

I don't think they are out right wrong...

Incorrect, yes. The bands themselves did not authorize the use. That is what the bands are saying to get people off their backs about the morons using songs and not thinking about the actual meaning of the songs.
They are incorrect in the part that they are unauthorized at all. I am not going to dig into this because my sanity can’t take the hit of the record label logic or anything like that but I will give them the benefit of the doubt.
As for them not doing the background work, eh, everyone is gonna screw up from time to time, they are however, more right, more often, than the big media places like FOX and MSNBC. THEY out right lie.

Twan Fox (profile) says:

Stance on Right of Publicity

While I don’t disagree that the whole copyright fiasco is too heavily focused on artists rights and very little on the public domain side of the equation, in this instance there seems to be a fuzzy grey area, specifically where the artists may take issue under state’s Right of Publicity statues. While I have misgivings if such statues are for the ‘important people’ only and whether they’re necessary, even the ASCAP calls out this case.

Do those alter the perception of whether or not John Oliver’s rant is misguided?

Puking over Politics says:

Dis 'em hell yeah

Maybe John Oliver is tired like the rest of us poor saps who have been listening to all the disinformation we get from that bunch in DC, he’s decided to dish out some of his own. He could be trying to confuse those politicians and muddy up the water. Who can blame him for that. I like his show.

American Hippie says:

Re: Dis 'em hell yeah

Hell, its sacreligious for these people to be misrepresenting the music they choose to play at their yehaws when they’re outlawing everything most of those songs were written about and for the true followers of those bands, it makes us sick to think they are trying to associate themselves and their politics with the heart and soul of this dear music. They are definitely NOT US.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Dis 'em hell yeah

“He could be trying to confuse those politicians and muddy up the water. Who can blame him for that.”

I don’t think that was his intention (I prefer to think he was honestly misguided on this), but if it was then I would absolutely call him out on that kind of bullshit.

You don’t fight lies by telling more lies.

Musicians Unite says:

Stealing the Music

These politicians do ANYTHING they can think of to make themselves look good to those they hope to finagle. To watch them using this music, unauthorized by the actual artists who sweated blood and gave themselves up for their music to their world, is a huge indicator that the politicians don’t give a fuck about the people in the world they hope to rule.

It must be this way that the artists get that word out that they didn’t authorize this and have no belief in or support for these politicians who are playing their music at these conventions and rallies.

If the politicians would only ask the musicians if they don’t mind, most of the artists might allow them and that is the way it should be written in law. ASCAP / BMI should not be allowed to lease the music politically without artists’ consent because of the automatic inference of association that has.

John85851 (profile) says:

Some clarification...

First, the RNC was held in a stadium, which has all the necessary BMI/ ASCAP blanket rights. Therefore, none of the Republicans needed to ask the artists for permission. However…

It’s very disingenuous and insulting for the Republicans to play a song written by a gay man (Freddie Mercury) when their policies are so anti-gay.
But this goes back to the idea of politicians using songs that sound good without knowing the meaning of the song. Does anyone remember when Reagan used “Born in the USA” during his campaign without realizing it was a Vietnam-protest song?

And even though Freddie Mercury may have passed away, the rest of Queen can certainly complain about using their song for political purposes.

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