Neil Young Sues Trump Campaign Over Use of His Songs

Singer changes his mind on lawsuit
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2020 1:45 AM CDT
Neil Young Sues Trump Campaign Over Use of His Songs
In this Saturday, May 25, 2019, file photo, Neil Young performs at the BottleRock Napa Valley Music Festival at Napa Valley Expo in Napa, Calif.   (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

Neil Young is taking his fight with President Trump a step further. The singer is now suing the Trump campaign for copyright infringement over its use of his music at campaign events, Fox News reports. Young spoke out after two of his songs were played at Trump's Mount Rushmore event. In the suit, he says "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Devil's Sidewalk" have been regularly used at campaign events including the infamous Tulsa rally. "The campaign has willfully ignored Plaintiff's telling it not to play the Songs and willfully proceeded to play the Songs despite its lack of a license," says the suit, which asks for up to $150,000 per infringement in statutory damages.

"Plaintiff in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song' for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate," the suit says, though it notes that Young is not trying to "disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing." As the Hollywood Reporter explains, Young previously decided not to sue after learning that campaign venues had reportedly gotten public performance licenses from ASCAP and BMI. However, as an increasing number of artists have complained about politicians using their songs, the performance rights organizations started allowing songwriters to exclude their music for political use. This suit will be the first test of whether that holds up in court. (More Neil Young stories.)

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