It is not unusual for political candidates of all kinds to use popular music as a soundtrack for their campaign ads or events. In the past, some politicians have come under fire for using an artist’s music without permission. However, many well-known bands and singers recently came together in an attempt to stop this practice altogether, which they say is a violation of copyright law. Artists here in New York may want to take note of this development, which could have a far-reaching impact.
The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Elton John, among many others, signed an open letter on the subject sent from the Artist Rights Alliance. The letter requests that entities of both major political parties stop using the music of signatories unless they have obtained official permission. A representative for ARA says that though the illegal use of music has happened many times before, there has been an increase in complaints recently.
The idea is that if artists stand together on this issue, they have a much better chance at success. An official letter from multiple artists may generate more public scrutiny on the issue than individual complaints. The letter points out that politicians who violate copyright law may be viewed unfavorably when an artist publicly denounces the usage of a song, potentially damaging any positive associations the song may have been intended to create. The ARA says that if politicians simply request permission before using music with a copyright, they can avoid a great deal of bad publicity, not to mention ensure the artist is properly compensated.
Though many artists here in New York may never have to contend with this specific type of copyright law violation, it is important to understand the implications. No one should ever use the work of an artist without proper permission, no matter the medium. Those artists who think their work may have been misused, or those who want to protect it from misuse may want to work with an experienced copyright law attorney on this matter.