Neil Young, arguably one of the most beloved musicians in American history, is in the midst of filing a civil lawsuit against the reelection campaign for President Trump. Trump has been using Young’s songs during his campaign appearances, including “Devil’s Sidewalk” and “Rockin’ The Free World.” Young’s mission is to stop him from doing so.
A copyright infringement lawsuit was filed in New York’s federal court. The entire report is available to read on Neil Young’s website.
The ironic part is that Young has complained about Trump using his songs for political gain before. Young, as well as Adele, The Rolling Stones, and many others, objected to Trump using their music back in 2016 during his campaign trail. Neil Young, who was born in Canada, announced this past January that he had decided to apply for citizenship finally.
It is worth mentioning that Neil also mentioned that he had been a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders for quite some time.
Young told Reuters back in 2016 that he was upset Trump had not asked for his blessing prior to using his music. In the earlier days of the 2016 campaign, Trump made a few licensing agreements with PROs, including BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) and ASCAP (the American Societ of Composers, Authors, and Publishers).
These PROs (performing rights organizations) typically allow the use of popular songs for live events. However, it is the law that labels and songwriters have the ability to prohibit the use of their songs during live political events.
In the 2016 interview with Reuters, Young mentioned that he was fine with Trump using the song in 2016, as he had received a license for it. “You know, once the music goes out, everybody can use it for anything.”
This new case that Young is bringing to federal court will serve as somewhat of a test for copyright infringement cases in the future. When reading Neil Young’s complaint, it is clear to see that he does not want his music to be the “theme for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.”
Young is also asking for statutory damages along with the barring of his music from the campaign trail. Other musicians are beginning to feel the same way about allowing politicians to use their music. Mick Jagger, Sia, and many more signed an open letter to both the Democratic and Republican parties, asking that they stop the unauthorized use of music during campaigns or within other political settings.
The letter states that “this is not a new problem, nor a partisan one. Every election cycle brings stories of artists and songwriters frustrated to find their work being used in settings that suggest endorsement or support of political candidates without their permission or consent.”
It will only be a matter of time until we hear a response from President Trump.
What are your thoughts?
Should artists have control over who uses their music in live events within a political setting?
Let us know in the comments!