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REM, Pearl Jam, Dozens of artists demand an end to the use of political song

What Elton John, Rolling Stones, Lionel Richie, Courtney Love, Panic! in the common park of Disco, Pearl Jam, Sia, Aerosmith, Lorde and Linkin? One of the many other things is definitely the desire of politicians to keep their dirty hands out of music. (If they may not ask nicely.)

These and dozens of other artists signed an open letter from the Alliance for Artists’ Rights to the Democratic and Republican National, Congressional and Senatorial Committees, asking all parties to stop allocating popular songs for political purposes without permission. .

“No politician benefits from forcing a popular artist to give him up in public and reject him,” the letter said. “Nevertheless, these unnecessary controversies inevitably keep even the most reluctant or apolitical artists out of reach, forcing them to explain how they disagree with candidates who misuse their music. And on social media and culture in general, it is politicians who usually end up on the wrong side of these stories. ̵

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Others who add their signatures to the letter include Green Day, REM, Sheryl Crow, T Bone Burnett, Kurt Cobain Manor, Blondie, Jason Isbell, Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash and Lykke Li. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed individually. Steven Tyler is on board as a signatory under his own name and Aerosmith’s.

“This is an issue that has emerged in previous election cycles,” said Ted Kalo, executive director of the Copyright Alliance. variety“But it happened with much more frequency in this cycle, and that caught our eye. At a time when Americans were uniting to stand up for their rights and demand more politicians and large institutions, the energy we just don’t want anymore was overwhelming. Instead of taking it only gradually, we felt it was time to confront this problem in numbers with a simple request: First ask and get permission. “

This topic is a topic that is late, with artists who no longer think that throwing hands is the best they can do when it comes to stopping their music from playing in rallies during campaigns and in political videos. The Rolling Stones has worked with both ASCAP and BMI to point out that political practices require a special license, such as a permit for a regular position, and Neil Young threatened to sue the president just this week if he continued to use his songs in campaigns. .

Kalo says ARA staff and the ARA board have drafted a letter: “Consultation with experienced industry managers and lawyers who have been following the issue for years. Manager and lawyer Bertis Downs has a long-standing interest in the matter and has been instrumental in providing feedback. “

He adds: “Rosanne (Cash) is a tireless advocate and has helped with this, as have other members of the ARA board. REM first applied for membership in the ARA – their participation in everything sends a signal about the significance of the problem. The network of industrial managers has spread the word to artists. This problem, attitude and timing resonated and only snowed.

“Artists have never been more informed about their rights and the need to stand up for each other and stand together,” says Kalo. “This letter is a tap on the shoulder and asks the campaigns to do the right thing. If this tap on the shoulder does not attract the attention of the campaigns, I have no doubt that the response will take place with a significant increase in outraged and concerted activism. ‘ “

Full sheet in full:

Distinguished campaign committees:

As artists, activists and citizens, we ask you to commit that all candidates you support will get approval from prominent performers and songwriters before using their music in campaigns and political settings. This is the only way to effectively protect your candidates from the legal risk, unnecessary public controversy, and moral guessing that results from falsely claiming or implying artistic support or distorting an artist’s expression in this way.

This is not a new problem. Or partisan. Each election cycle brings stories of artists and composers frustrated that their work is being used in environments that suggest the support or support of political candidates without their consent or consent.

Reluctant involvement in politics can jeopardize the artist’s personal values ​​while disappointing and alienating fans – at great moral and economic cost. For artists who choose to engage politically in campaigns or other contexts, this kind of misuse of the public will confuse their message and undermine their effectiveness. Music tells strong stories and leads to emotional connection and engagement – that’s why their campaigns end up using them! But without permission, the siphons separate it from this value.

The legal risks are clear. Using music in a campaign may infringe federal and (in some cases) copyright to sound recordings and music tracks. Depending on the technology used to copy and broadcast these works, several exclusive copyrights, including performance and reproduction, may be infringed. In addition, these uses affect the rights of advertising creators to promotion and branding, potentially create exposure for trademark infringement, dilution or disgust under Lanham’s law, and lead to claims for false confirmation, conversion, and other common law and torts. With regard to advertising campaigns or advertisements, a number of rules and regulations regarding the raising of funds for the campaign (including unpublished and potentially illegal “in-kind” contributions), finances and communication could be violated.

More importantly, falsely implying support or consent from an artist or composer is dishonest and immoral. It undermines the campaign process, confuses voters and ultimately distorts elections. It should be an anathema for any honest candidate to create this kind of uncertainty or falsely leave the impression of supporting an artist or composer.

Like all other citizens, artists have a fundamental right to control their work and to decide freely on their political expression and participation. Using their work for political purposes without their consent fundamentally violates these rights – the invasion of the most sacred, even sacred, personal interests.

No politician benefits from forcing a popular artist to publicly reject and reject him. However, these unnecessary controversies inevitably keep even the most reluctant or apolitical artists out of reach, forcing them to explain how they disagree with candidates who misuse their music. And on social media and culture in general, it is politicians who usually end up on the wrong side of these stories.

For these reasons, we ask that you establish clear rules requiring campaigns supported by your committees to seek the approval of featured performers, composers, and copyright owners before using their music publicly in a political or campaign setting. Funding, logistical support and participation in the Committee’s programs, operations and events should be conditional on this promise and its terms should be clearly set out in writing in your statutes, operating instructions, campaign manuals or where you lay down any other relevant rules, support requirements or conditions.

Let us know by August 10thth how you plan to make these changes.



Alanis Morissette

Amanda Shires

The ancient future

Andrew McMahon

Alliance for the Rights of Artists


Beth Nielsen Chapman


Butch Walker


Callie Khouri

Courtney Love

Cyndi Lauper

A Navarro

Daniel Martin Moore

Duke Fakir

Elizabeth Cook

Elton John

Elvis Costello

Erin McKeown

Fall Out Boy

Grant-Lee Phillips

Green day

Gretchen Peters

Ivan Barias

Jason Isbell


Joe Perry

John McCrea

John Mellencamp

Keith Richards

Property Kurt Cobain

Lera Lynn

Lionel Richie

Linkin Park


Lucky Li

Maggie Vail

Mary Gauthier

Matt Nathanson

Matthew Montfort

Michelle Branch

Mick Jagger

Okkervil River

Pearl Jam

Panic! At the disco

Patrick Carney


Regina Spektor

Rosanne Cash

Sheryl Crow

a flat

Steven Tyler

T Bone Burnett

Tift Merritt

Thomas Manzi

The train

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