Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida is being sued by Talking Heads front man David Byrne for using his 1985 song “Road to Nowhere” in his campaign earlier this year. Byrne is filing suit for the amount of $1 million because that’s the amount he has been offered for his songs in the past. The Crist campaign took down the ad after they were contacted by Byrne’s lawyers but Byrne says “the damage had already been done.” Byrne told Billboard this “is not about politics…It’s about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for.”
This isn’t the first time musicians have been offended and taken action against politicians using their music in campaigns. Last year MGMT successfully sued the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy for using their song “Kids” in his online campaign. During the 2008 Presidential campaign Jackson Browne sued John McCain for using his song “Running on Empty.” At least Crist has better taste.
Browne vs. McCain ended with a pledge composed by groups including the Republican National Party stating they would respect artists rights and license copyrighted works. So there’s no wall of ignorance to hide behind anymore. Politicians take note: don’t use songs without approval from the artists! Why? Because they didn’t write it for you. They wrote it for themselves, for their loved ones, friends and fans. It stands for something they believe in and not ‘whatever you stand for.’
If a musician believes in you, they’ll play your party.