Donald Trump on Tuesday used Neil Young‘s anthem “Rockin’ in the Free World” to announce his 2016 presidential candidacy in front of Trump Towers. Shortly afterward, Young’s management issued a statement, saying the famous real estate magnate was not authorized to use the tune.
According to the statement, Young is supporting Independent presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Trump’s campaign has emphasized they procured the correct licensing (a public performance license) from ASCAP, the writer’s PRO, for use of the song. While Trump is protected under copyright law, he can still be held liable under “Right of Publicity,” “False Endorsement” or the “Lanham Act.” ASCAP cautions politicians to obtain permission from artists for songs used in political campaigns.
This isn’t the first time a scenario like this has occurred. Other strange incidents include Ronald Reagan’s use of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” and Mitt Romney’s use of K’Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag.”
Update: Neil Young posted a message about the incident on his Facebook page around 3:15 p.m. EST.
Yesterday my song “Rockin in the Free World” was used in a announcement for a U.S. presidential candidate without my permission.
A picture of me with this candidate was also circulated in conjunction with this announcement but It was a photograph taken during a meeting when I was trying to raise funds for Pono, my online high resolution music service.
Music is a universal language. so I am glad that so many people with varying beliefs get enjoyment from my music, even if they don’t share my beliefs.
But had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate – I would have said no.
I am Canadian and I don’t vote in the United States, but more importantly I don’t like the current political system in the USA and some other countries. Increasingly Democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests. The money needed to run for office, the money spent on lobbying by special interests, the ever increasing economic disparity and the well funded legislative decisions all favor corporate interests over the people’s.
The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling is proof of this corruption as well as are the proposed trade deals which would further compromise our rights.
These Corporations were originally created to serve us but if we don’t appropriately prioritize they will destroy us. Corporations don’t have children. They don’t have feelings or soul. They don’t depend on uncontaminated water, clean air or healthy food to survive. They are beholden to one thing – the bottom line.
I choose to speak Truth to this Economic Power. When I speak out on corporations hurting the common man or the environment or other species, I expect a well financed disinformation campaign to be aimed my way.
Such is the case with the reaction to my new album The Monsanto Years, which covers many of these issues. I support those bringing these issues to light and those who fight for their rights like Freedom of Choice.
But Freedom of Choice is meaningless without knowledge.
Thats why its crucial we all get engaged and get informed.
That’s why GMO labeling matters. Mothers need to know what they are feeding their children. They need freedom to make educated choices at the market. When the people have voted for labeling, as they have in Vermont, they need our support when they are fighting these corporate interests trying to reverse the laws they have voted for and passed in the democratic process.
I do not trust self serving misinformation coming from corporations and their media trolls. I do not trust politicians who are taking millions from those corporations either. I trust people. So I make my music for people not for candidates.
Keep on Rockin in the Free World.