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McCain's Copyright Woes

Bumped and Updated Again: Looks like Jackson Browne (see August 14, 2008 below) is going to have his day in court:

A court is allowing Jackson Browne to pursue his lawsuit against Sen. John McCain and the Republican National Committee for using his song "Running On Empty" during the presidential campaign.

The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles has denied a motion from McCain and the Republican National Committee to dismiss the lawsuit.

McCain and the RNC had claimed First Amendment rights and fair use in using the song in an online campaign video, but the court disagreed.

A hearing is set for late April. Browne's lawyer, Lawrence Iser, said they're happy that the court recognized that people running for office are not entitled to violate an individual's intellectual property for a political campaign.

McCain has said he was not involved with the making of the video.

Translation: McCain says "the buck doesn't stop here -- what buck?." Did McCain not approve of the video? Of course he did - what a weasel...

Bumped and Updated Again September 5, 2008: What arrogant assholes these Republicans are.

They figure these artists won't allow their music to be associated with lying, thieving republican scum, so the scum don't ask permission, they just steal the music and use it without permission.

McCain is now obviously just totally ignoring the law. They've been put on notice so many times, and they still keep ripping off artists and stealing the music without proper licensing. What despicable little thieves... scum actually - here's the latest:

Heart Duo Furious Over Republicans' Use of 'Barracuda'

Heart stars Ann and Nancy Wilson have slammed U.S. presidential candidate John McCain for using their hit song "Barracuda" as his campaign's theme song without their prior permission.

Republican leader McCain chose the song as the theme track for his running mate Sarah Palin -- whose high-school nickname was "Sarah Barracuda" because of her forceful style of playing basketball.

But the Wilsons are furious their song has been linked in with the McCain campaign trail, and are demanding the track is scrapped from further promotional duties.

Update II: The arrogant McCain campaign is responding, and is indeed ignoring the wishes of the artists that they not use the song, claiming that they have indeed paid for the song and therefore will use it regardless of the artists' objections:

Friday afternoon, we heard back from the McCain campaign, which issued the following statement: "The McCain campaign respects intellectual property rights. Accordingly, prior to using 'Barracuda' at any events, we paid for and obtained all necessary licenses."

It'd make an interesting lawsuit -- with the artists having to show that the usage by the McCrap Campaign was so egregious, so offensive, so damaging... that they are within their rights to refund the licensing fees (if any) and forcing the McLiars to not use the song.

Where do I send the check?

Bumped and Updated Again - August 14, 2008: Looks like the McCain clowns will be going to court for their blatant and repeated disregard for copyright law:

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne is suing Republican presidential nominee John McCain and the Republican party for using his song "Running on Empty" in a recent TV commercial.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Browne claims McCain and the party did not obtain permission to use the song for an ad in which "Senator McCain and the Republicans mock Democratic candidate for president Barack Obama for suggesting that the country conserve gas through proper tire inflation."

This is all part of a repeating pattern for the McCain Clown Circus -- see below...

Updated and Bumped: August 12, 2008 -- They did it again, the second time in two weeks. Apparently copyright laws are among the laws easily ignored by the McCain camp.

When John McCain entered "Wayne's World," he quickly got a dose of Hollywood reality.

As Ticket blogger Don Frederick noted earlier today, the McCain campaign unveiled a new Web ad -- called "Fan Club" -- that continued its effort to deride Barack Obama as little more than a creation of celebrity culture.

Young women swoon over Obama's aura and "soft eyes" and liken him to Bono. All that is fine, at least legally.

But the ad may have crossed the copyright line at the end by including footage of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey doing their Wayne and Garth "We're not worthy" schtick from years past on "Saturday Night Live."

Hollywood types jumped into the fray, directing the McCain campaign to cease and desist -- and so it did.

"Apparently Mike Myers thought we weren't worthy," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said in an e-mail.

McCain's camp blamed Myers for turning his "people" on the Republican.

However, Myers' Hollywood attorney, Martin Singer, said he made no such demand and was unaware who did. Rogers said that Myers publicist raised the concern.

The re-cut ad, sans the Wayne and Garth imagery (but with the pair's trademark slogan) can be seen on the McCain website.

McCain's folks blamed Myers... without even checking to see if he was involved. This definitely fits in with the McCain M.O. of "shoot first, ask later".

----original post begins here----

McCain's Copyright Woes
published July 28, 2008

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Post a couple of videos of supposed media bias towards Obama, add some music that fits the meme ("My Eyes Adored You" or "Can't Take My Eyes Off You") sung by Frankie Valli, then sit back and count the hits...

...and the misses, not to mention the phone calls from Warner Music Group. Seems that the McCain campaign folks never bothered to license the music they were illegally exploiting for free featuring in their whiny videos.

Yeah, who cares about things like "the law" and "the rights of the copyright holders" -- John McCain has a campaign to run, and to hell with those nasty little "legalities"...

Too funny, what incompetence. Warner Music Group had YouTube yank the video.

[W]e here at Stumper headquarters think that the more interesting--and/or hilarious--story is McCain's utter inability to find a single rock star willing to associate his or her songs with the campaign.

Regular readers will recognize that this isn't the first time McCain has received the cold shoulder from the music industry. Earlier this year, ABBA nixed McCain's attempt to use "Take a Chance on Me" (a personal favorite) at his rallies. "We played it a couple times and it's my understanding they went berserk," the candidate confessed. When hard-line Dem John Mellencamp learned that McCain was blasting "Pink Houses" before events, he requested that the Republican cease and desist.

burt_bacharach.jpgShortly thereafter, McCain settled on "Johnny B. Goode" as his signature song. "It might be because it is the only one [the artist] hasn't complained about us using," he said at the time. But Chuck Berry quickly came out for Obama. While Will.i.am, Arcade Fire, the Decemberists, the Grateful Dead, Macy Gray and Wilco have personally serenaded fans at campaign events, McCain's musical support has been limited to octogenarian composer Burt Bacharach (pictured above) and one half of the novelty country duo Big & Rich. Even the reliably Republican Ted Nugent is no fan. "McCain is catering to a growing segment of soulless Americans who could care less what they can do for their country, but whine louder and louder about what their country must do for them," the Motor City Madmen recently said. "That is both un-American and pathetic."


Related: McCain plagiarizes Wikipedia in Speech about Georgia

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Comments (14)

What's really funny is you slamming on McCain for being too much like a member of the Democratic Party and agreeing with Nugent that such a stance is "pathetic" and "un-American".

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

McCain is running as a Republican, last time I checked. He's certainly not asking for this liberal's vote, not with his positions...

He's hoping all of the geriatric old farts who voted for Bush twice and now are calling themselves "independents" (because they're ashamed of their past digressions) will totter down to the polls and hopefully remember who they're supposed to vote for...

Good catch! I actually just wrote a letter to msnbc about this. Those videos are still hosted on McCain's account via blip.tv at:



I think it is probably a good idea from the McCain camp to pull them anyway. How are you expecting to get votes by showing your opponents vast popularity advantage. Kind of like the concept of peer pressure, but in reverse??


I know Evan, what the hell?
"Obama is so loved and respected by Americans and our friends and allies worldwide that you should vote for me, John McCain". That's gonna play big in his favor. Sigh... he really could have run a much better campaign.

Johan Amedeus Metesky:

It'd be quite a trick for the Grateful Dead to "personally serenade" Obama fans since the Dead have not existed as a band since 1995, when Garcia died. Individual former members may have appeared at campaign events for Obama or others, but "The Grateful Dead" havn't played in 13 years.

I'm sure that your other "facts" are just as accurate.

As for Heart, their lawyers should be sanctioned. The Excell Center already is licensed by ASCAP and BMI to publicly play recorded performances and there's nothing Heart can do about it as long as the proper licensing fees are paid.

I wonder if Heart got permission from Led Zeppelin to do grievous harm to their songs.

Johan Amedeus Metesky[TypeKey Profile Page]:

BTW, Lee, care to let me browse through your computer's directory and file structure to make sure that all your software is licensed and you haven't done any illegal file sharing?

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"It'd be quite a trick for the Grateful Dead to "personally serenade" Obama fans since the Dead have not existed as a band since 1995, when Garcia died. Individual former members may have appeared at campaign events for Obama or others, but "The Grateful Dead" havn't played in 13 years."

Grateful Dead Reunite for Barack Obama Benefit Show

I'm sure that your other "facts" are just as accurate."

I don't think you're smart enough to be sure of your home address, putz. My guess is that you still have to look at your driver's license when asked...

"The Excell Center already is licensed by ASCAP and BMI to publicly play recorded performances and there's nothing Heart can do about it as long as the proper licensing fees are paid."

It's "Xcel" not "Excell", and the center's license doesn't cover every schmuck that rents the place, it only covers the sports events produced at the arena by the Xcel folks.

When you bring a show into a venue you have to get your own license.

If McCain had a license then great, and Heart is wrong for complaining, but given their track record of stealing music and ignoring copyright laws my guess is that they didn't -- but I wouldn't be surprised to see them lie and say they did. The McCain campaign has been lying all week.

"BTW, Lee, care to let me browse through your computer's directory and file structure to make sure that all your software is licensed and you haven't done any illegal file sharing?"

You wouldn't find any illegally downloaded music.

But let's not forget, we're talking about John McCain who's now grown famous for ripping off music without paying for it -- not me.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

It doesn't matter if the center is licensed because it wouldn't cover McCain's usage.

But the McLiars are saying they did buy the license (see update above courtesy of Denise the half-witted troll), so now it becomes a legal issue if the artists want to pursue it. They'd have to show that they're being damaged by McCrap's use of their song. It'd be an interesting suit, I hope they pursue it.


According to ASCAP FAQ, it is, in so many words, the responsibility of both the venue and the user to pay license fees:

"The law says all who participate in, or are responsible for, performances of music are legally responsible. Since it is the business owner who obtains the ultimate benefit from the performance, it is the business owner who obtains the license."

So if the RNC doesn't pay or didn't get a license from ASCAP, where Barracuda is licensed from as Lee pointed out, then the center is also liable. Technically, this was a Republican National Committee function, not a McCain one.


I made a mistake. The RNC is not responsible for the convention (and DNC either), a local host committee is responsible for at least 80% of the bills. These local committees are tax exempt and contributions are like for charities.

You could have gone to the Democratic convention as a VIP for a mere million bucks or the Republican one for FIVE million. Corporations and unions can pay as much as they want through exemptions. How nice.

Of course that is for the highest level of access. You can buy lower levels for as little as about $50,000 from the Democrats, higher for Republicans.

Anyway, I made a mistake and wanted to correct it.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

McCain is no doubt using the song as a theme song for multiple Palin events in multiple venues, so they have to get their own license for the song's use.

The "Xcel Center has a license" whine is just more right wing meaningless bullshit drivel put forth by trolls. It's irrelevant.


Lee, before you embarrass yourself further, read this: http://www.slate.com/id/2199492/>1=38001

If the McCain campaign continues to use the song, to the point that the Wilson sisters can demonstrate "Barracuda" has become more identified with Palin than with them, then they could sue the McCain campaign for violating their right to publicity. Otherwise, the McCain camp insists that the RNC paid the proper public performance usage fees; that being the case, the Wilson sisters can cry until kingdom come, but they have no legal recourse.

A simple solution to this problem would be to have another band cover the song, and then use the cover version at events. Since the Wilson sisters have no say about who performs their songs (except perhaps in seriously objectionable cases, such as the sound track to a pornographic movie), their complaints would be rendered irrelevant.

John S:

The Wilsons have no say. The record company and by extension the RIAA own the song.


If McCain uses the song in other venues, then yes Lee, the campaign must get a license. And John, ASCAP does the licensing, not RIAA or the record company (except in certain situations). I do find it interesting that there are four authors listed for "Barracuda" and that multiple groups have done it.

What I don't understand is that with more than one group writing puff pieces of music for BOTH campaigns, why McCain's staff had to pick this one. Why ask for trouble by not contacting the artist. Bad publicity is, uh, bad.


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