Neil Young Shares Plan to Sue President Trump Over ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ Usage
It appears as though Neil Young is ready to take legal action against the Trump presidential campaign over their continued usage of his music at rallies. Young posted his drawn up legal document against the Trump campaign via his archives site, but it is not clear if the suit has been filed as of yet.
The legal document names the Trump campaign with the option to amend to include specific names of those involved with the alleged copyright infringement. Young is calling out Trump over the usage of two songs -- "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Devil's Sidewalk" -- with the suit noting that both had been used at the President's June rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"The campaign does not now have, and did not at the time of the Tulsa rally, have a license or Plaintiff's permission to play the two songs at any public political event," states the document, later adding, "Plaintiff has continuously and publicly objected to the use by the campaign of the songs. The first objection was in connection with Trump's playing 'Rockin' in the Free World' at his June 16, 2015 announcement that he was running for president."
Young's suit accuses the Trump campaign of "willfully ignor[ing] plaintiff's telling it not to play the songs and willfully proceeded to play the songs despite its lack of license and despite its knowledge that a license is required to do so."
In the proposed suit, Young is seeking statutory damages in the maximum amount for willful copyright infringement, which won't exceed $150,000, but will be no less than $750 for each infringement. Check out the document in full here.
In late July, a number of acts joined forces with the Artists Rights Alliance to demand that political parties “establish clear policies requiring campaigns to seek the consent of featured recording artists, songwriters, and copyright owners before publicly using their music in a political or campaign setting,”
The drafted letter, signed by members of Pearl Jam, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, green Day and more, included the statement, “We’ve seen so many artists and estates dragged into politics against their will and forced to take aggressive action to prohibit the use of their music – usually songs that are broadcast during political rallies or used in campaign ads. It can confuse and disappoint fans and even undermine an artists’ long-term income – and mostly, it’s just not right. Politicians that want to represent the public trust must do better – by seeking consent before exploiting an artist’s or songwriter’s image and work."
"Many of these artists have spent a lifetime making music that we all know and love. At the very least, it should be their choice – especially in these hyper-partisan times. With so many creators raising concerns about this issue, it is time to take action and ensure our voices are heard,” continued the letter.
The Trump campaign has repeatedly received push back from the music community over song usage at rallies, with Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Queen, Guns N' Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Panic! at the Disco and Twisted Sister all lodging complaints. In addition, the Rolling Stones had previously issued cease and desist directives to the Trump campaign, but recently worked with BMI to ensure that any further usage by the President would constitute a breach of licensing agreement, opening him up to a lawsuit.
See "Rockin' in the Free World" in the 40 Best Cover Songs by Rock Bands