KWIKH founding and managing partner Larry Iser was quoted in The Washington Post today in Travis Andrews’ piece on a phenomenon as predictable as the morning sunrise: the unauthorized use of popular songs by political candidates in their campaigns.
If anyone knows the ins and outs of the law when it comes to intellectual property licensing (especially in the political arena), it’s Larry, who represented both Jackson Browne (against 2008 presidential candidate John McCain and the Republican National Committee) and David Byrne (against former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in his 2010 run for the Senate) for the respective campaigns’ failure to get the songwriters’ permission to use their songs.
This time, it’s Donald Trump who has stepped in it, with his use of the Stones’ “Start Me Up,” Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World,” as well as music by Adele and Aerosmith.
Said Larry: “Just as if you were making commercials for any product you can think of—if you wanted to put that onto television, you want to put commercials on YouTube, you want to make any kind of audio/video work that contains music—you do need to have licenses, you do need to have permission.”
Another sticky part of the issue is how a candidate’s use of a song makes it appear that the songwriter endorses the candidate, which brings up the “right of publicity,” an important principle that helps an artist protect his or her public image.
“It’s untested in the political realm,” Larry added. “Even if Donald Trump has the ASCAP right to use a Neil Young song, does Neil have the right to nevertheless go after him on right of publicity? I say he does.”
For the rest of the story, see “The Rolling Stones demand Trump stop using its music at rallies, but can the band actually stop him?“