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Music and songs rule the hearts, not only it soothes the soul but also fetches as a powerful medium of expression. The original soundtracks and videos are the first attempts of the producer we often come across. A commonsensical fact, the same soundtracks are also used as a tool of marketing, quite frequently to be honest. Be it a product promotion or an advertisement or even a radio channel introduction, music of known soundtracks is something we can’t help noticing. But is it legal? Does it constitute a breach of copyright? The answer to it can be both, yes or no, depending on case-to-case, mainly on authorization, licensing, degree of adoption of copyright works, extent of application of “substantial elements”, etc.
Just this week, well-known singer and songwriter Neil Young filed a copyright infringement suit against the United States President, Donald J. Trump before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Repeatedly playing 1989 hit “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk” at numerous election rallies without any authorization or permission became the primary concern of the lawsuit. A disclaimer like statement was also added that said, “This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing.” The same can be seen on the singer’s website.
Letters and notices were issued to Trump before this complaint, notably, in February and then in July. The later one accused Trump of using Young’s songs with clearly “no regard for my (Young’s) rights, even calling me (Young’s) name on Twitter”. The letter finished off with an endnote, “Because you are in charge of the COVID-19 response here in the USA, I will not sue you potentially distracting from your important work at hand protecting and saving American lives.”
Seems like Young’s patience finally worn out. This is not the first time the Canadian-origin singer raised copyright allegations against the Prez. Back in 2015, Young accused Trump for making use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” during the announcement ceremony of his Presidential candidacy. Much to his shock, Trump claimed to have obtained a prior authorization and license for the same. And just like that, the issue remained untouched.
The two-time granny winner musician is seeking “statutory damages in the maximum amount allowed” totaling to $150,000 per copyright infringement along with an order to restrain Trump for playing or making unauthorized use of his songs.