Hours before President Trump entered the stage Sunday night at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, Rihanna's "Don Stop the Music" echoed in the 11,000-capacity McKenzie Arena. "Trump's rallies are unlike anything else in politics," wrote Philip Rucker of The Washington Post on Twitter, where he described it scene: Employees throw free Trump T-shirts "like a ball game" into the crowd row stretch out at the door.
"Keep it up," sang Rihanna's voice. "Please do not stop, please do not stop, please do not listen to the music."
However, when the pop star learned that her rally hit in 2007 had been introduced, her answer was clear: she actually wanted the music to stop.
"Not much longer," she tweeted as Trump used her song at the Sunday rally. "… I or my people would ever be at one of those tragic rallies."
The Barbadian singer can not vote in the United States, but has made no secret of her political inclinations: she was a vociferous critic of the president. Last year, she called him an "immoral pig" after he ordered an executive in January 2017 that prevented citizens from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States and criticized his response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico ,
Weeks before the 2016 elections, Rihanna was printed in a T-shirt with a picture of Hillary Clinton's face printed on it. After Trump's inauguration, she appeared on the women's march in New York in a pink sweatshirt and matching pink tutu and dabbed in front of the Trump Tower.
But can she actually stop Trump from playing her music at his election campaigns?
The answer is complicated. If a politician wants to use a song as background music at a rally, his campaign will need a public performance license from the copyright holder of the musical composition rather than that of a sound artist, Danwill Schwender, an attorney for intellectual property, said in an article in "American Music ", a scientific journal of the University of Illinois Press. Radio and TV advertising is another story – the owner of the audio recording, usually the label of the artist, has to license the song for the campaign.
In the United States, most music composing rights belong to one of two performing rights organizations: the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), which manage 23.5 million songs between them. In 2012, the BMI created a separate license for political entities, wrote Schwender, which allows musicians to exclude themselves if they do not want to use their song in a rally. ASCAP has a similar provision, according to NPR.
Musicians from Adele to Neil Young have requested that Trump stop playing his songs at his election stops, and some have used this clause. In October 2015, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler demanded that the Trump campaign no longer play "Dream On" on rallies, and BMI pulled in the public release rights for the song. (Trump's rally on August 21 in Charleston, W. Va., Included Aerosmith's "Livin 'On The Edge," another Tyler omission letter.) Similarly, after the Republican National Assembly queen's "We Are the Champions. "" In 2016, the band decided to exclude the song from future political events.
As Washington Post's Amy B Wang reported last week, after Pharrell had asked William Trump to stop using his 2013 hit "Happy" in political events, the ASCAP warns politicians that even if a campaign is a license for the United States Having used a song, they should nevertheless receive the permission of the artist. According to the ASCAP guidelines, angered artists could file lawsuits under the Lanham Act designed to prevent the brand from being diluted by unauthorized use or the law on publicity, which in some states provides image protection for well-known artists.
As Forbes & # 39; Melinda Newman wrote, "The problem is that both are unchecked for campaign use because no artist or songwriter has ever filed a lawsuit in which he leads a campaign violation – or at least that far as we could find. "
Meanwhile, Trump wants his rallies with the Rolling Stones title, "You can not always get what you want," even if it's against the band's wishes. And the group can not do much about it, Mick Jagger said in 2016.
"So the thing is when you perform in America. , , If you're in a public place like Madison Square Garden or a theater, you can play any music and you can not be stopped, "Jagger said in a question and answer session on Twitter. "So if you write a song and someone plays it in a restaurant you go to, you can not stop it. They can play whatever they want. "
Most typical venues for campaign events, such as arenas and congress centers, would already receive a blanket license from a rights organization, wrote Schwender. Therefore, "Sweet Child O Mine" will be played at Trump rallies, although Guns N & #; Roses said the opposite, said Axl Rose on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, the Trump campaign uses loopholes in the respective performance licenses for the various venues that were not intended for such blatant political ends without the songwriters' approval," he said wrote on twitter.
In his article, Schwender stated that the RNC could theoretically use the license of a convention center to play Queen's "We Are The Champions", arguing that the license of the venue replaces the license of the campaign – or its absence ,
"Although a BMI spokesman has stated that this is" inappropriate, "using a song as background music, as opposed to the" theme music "of a campaign, could change the analysis," he wrote. "The courts have not yet tested this argument."
For musicians, there is little financial reward when pursuing such a lawsuit. And it's always possible that the campaign will voluntarily choose to play Rihanna's music as requested, as was the case with Young in 2015. Meanwhile, Rihanna's attitude has received praise from some Democratic politicians.
"Good for @rihanna" wrote Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) On Twitter. "@RealDonaldTrump also chose the wrong song. Would not "Russian Roulette" or "Rude Boy" be any better for him anyway? "
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