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Rush and Rand: Using Music in Political Activities

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Ben Sheffner (who’s creating his own niche in covering political campaigns being accused of infringing copyright) does a nice bit of analysis of claims by Canadian rock band Rush that American libertarian politician Rand Paul made unauthorized and infringing use of Rush songs in his campaign materials.  The CBC coverage of the story notes:

Paul’s campaign used Rush’s The Spirit of Radio to energize a rally and another song, Tom Sawyer, in a fundraising video.

Paul also has used a line from The Spirit of Radio in speeches: “Glittering prizes and endless compromises shatter the illusion of integrity.”

As Sheffner notes, a distinction needs to be drawn between playing songs at a campaign event (which would be a public performance requiring a license from the collecting society which administers those rights, such as ASCAP, BMI or, in Canada, SOCAN – the license could be held by the venue in which the event takes place or by the campaign itself) and incorporating the songs into an advertisement or online video (which would require master use and synchronization licenses from the owners of the master recording and the publishing rights in the composition).

Here at the Signal we previously discussed the use of copyrighted materials in political campaigns in the unimaginatively titled “Copyrights and Campaigns”.