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Artist Rights Alliance

Artists Write An Open Letter Requesting Politicians To Ask For Permission Before Using Music On Campaign Stops

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(CelebrityAccess) — As the 2020 campaign season heats up ahead of the election in November, dozens of recording artists, producers, and songwriters have issued a clarion call for more control in the use of their music by political campaigns.

According to the Nashville Tennessean, a coalition of artists backed by the Artist Rights Alliance, signed an open letter to congress requesting that partisan election groups such as presidential campaigns establish policies requiring candidates to seek permission before using music at campaign events.

The letter was signed by more than 60 musicians, including Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, Lorde, Lionel Richie, Linkin Park, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Jason Isbell, Michelle Branch, Elton John, and Sheryl Crow among others.

“This is the only way to effectively protect your candidates from legal risk, unnecessary public controversy, and the moral quagmire that comes from falsely claiming or implying an artist’s support or distorting an artists’ expression in such a high stakes public way,” the letter reads.

The open letter comes after multiple artists, including Adele, The Rolling Stones, the Estate of Tom Petty, Adele, and Neil Young, have asked President Trump to stop using their music during his campaign rallies.

The legality of enforcing such a request is unclear. Campaigns license the use of music from organizations such as ASCAP and BMI through blanket compulsory licenses. However, the letter references laws such as the Lanham Act, a piece of 1946 legislation that governs the use of trademarks and unfair competition, and goes on to suggest that the use of music from an unwilling artist may violate state and federal copyrights, the Tennessean reported.

The letter also underscored the political impact of an artist publicly disowning a campaign over the use of music.

“It undermines the campaign process, confuses the voting public, and ultimately distorts elections,” the letter said. “It should be anathema to any honest candidate to play off this kind of uncertainty or falsely leave the impression of an artist’s or songwriter’s support.”

The letter concludes with a request that both parties to develop a plan for reform by mid-August.

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