These past few years, musicians have made it no secret that they prefer that the Republican Party not use their music. Last year I reported on a story that consisted of David Byrne, lead singer of the Talking Heads, against Charlie Crist, Florida Govener. You may recall, Crist was running for the U.S. Senate and ran an ad which contained Talking Head’s song “Road to Nowhere.” In that case, Crist accepted settlement of a YouTube video where he “sincerely” apologizes for his misappropriation of the song.
In a recent case filed by Frank Sullivan, co-author of the inspirational song “Eye of the Tiger,” another Republican politician has become a target, this time Newt Gingrich. This instance smells vaguely familiar to John McCain’s run in with musician Jackson Brown for he and the Ohio Republican Party’s use of “Running on Empty” at a rally.
No response has been filed on behalf of Newt, yet, but I would expect a fair use defense to be applied. In most of the cases filed against politicians involving unauthorized use of songs (since fair use isn’t a defense to rendezvous in the oval office), a fair use defense has been raised, but no opinion has ever been given by the courts. This leaves the question of whether politicians are able to use a song under the fair use blanket. Also, if the campaign had purchased an ASCAP or SESAC license, a defense that they have authorized use is also plausible. Newt’s worker bees have yet to comment on this present situation.
I would imagine that a quick resolution will be reached between the parties since Newt has no time to deal with a lawsuit while trailing in the polls. This is unfortunate because I would like to see one of these taken all the way to the end. That way the long running question will be answered. Cheers.