Thursday, September 20th 2018

David Byrne: Music Copyright Update

Now that we’ve all learned about musical copyrights, there is a fresh case that perfectly explains the issues.  David Byrne is suing Charlie Crist, a Florida politician, for unauthorized use of his song “Road to Nowhere” in a political ad.  This commercial clearly goes against the recording copyright of the music.  Byrne is seeking $1 million in damages.

Byrne is asking such a large amount to hopefully curb the rampant theft of music for use in these ads. He says “it is not about politics…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.”  This case is fresh on the heels of another Florida politician, Marco Rubio, for his unauthorized use of “Take the Money and Run” by Steve Miller in another campaign commercial.  Miller simply stated that “The Steve Miller Band and Steve Miller do not endorse Marco Rubio’s campaign or any political candidates and respectfully request that Mr. Rubio learn more about publishing law and intellectual property rights. I also ask that in the future he extends me the courtesy of asking permission before using my songs.”  The ad has since stopped running.

This case comes just a few years after the 2008 election cycle when John McCain was forced to settle with Jackson Browne after using “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad.  This case made tons of headlines so these Florida politicians should really have known better.  Many musicians find the unauthorized use of their music in political commercials to be particularly offensive since it tends to affiliate them with a politician with whom they may not want to be associated.  These musicians tend to have the resources to persevere in a legal battle against a well-funded campaign so their cases also tend to be successful.  Once again though, these cases prove the importance of knowing your rights under the law and being willing to fight to protect them.

Posted by Becky on June 9, 2010 at 4:48pm.

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