Music In Politics — Copyright And Lanham Act In The Mix

Law360, New York (June 29, 2015, 12:09 PM EDT) -- Since Frank Sinatra helped John F. Kennedy get elected to the presidency in 1960, every president has used popular music to help inspire voters. Sometimes, the musicians are on board: Bill Clinton used Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop" throughout his campaign and the band reunited to perform the song at the inaugural ball. Sometimes, the musicians are not: Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart publicly complained when John McCain's campaign used "Barracuda" as a theme for vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. With presidential election season already in full swing, more disputes between musicians and politicians are bound to occur. Can a politician use a song without the artist's permission at a campaign rally or in a campaign advertisement or video? The answer is a mixed bag and involves interpretation of both copyright law and the Lanham Act....

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