October 29, 2008

More on Musicians, Politics and Copyright [7:57 am]

Some music lacks stump of approval (pdf)

Bon Jovi is among a growing number of artists - John Mellencamp, Heart, Foo Fighters, Jackson Browne, songwriter Gretchen Peters - who have voiced their dismay during this presidential campaign over the use of their music. Many, like Bon Jovi, have released statements admonishing the campaigns for using their music without permission.

But in most of these instances, no approval from the artist, record label, or publishing company was required.

At public rallies, candidates are free to play any song they might have in their collection. “If John McCain buys a CD, he can play that CD on a boombox at his event,” said David Herlihy, professor of music industry at Northeastern University and a Boston-based entertainment lawyer.

[...] With no legal recourse, some artists are choosing to protest with their pocketbooks.

Acknowledging that the McCain-Palin campaign was within its legal rights to use the song, “Barracuda” co-writer Roger Fisher chose to put his money to work for his candidate. “I’m going to give my royalties to the Obama campaign,” said the former Heart guitarist. “So now anytime they play the song, they’re supporting [Barack] Obama.”

Gretchen Peters, writer of the Martina McBride hit “Independence Day,” which was used by the Palin campaign, is donating her royalty check for the entire quarter to Planned Parenthood.

“I don’t think Sarah Palin is setting the cause of women and women’s rights anything but backward several decades,” Peters said. “I would have liked to have said stop, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to say stop. In lieu of doing that, I made something positive happen.”

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