A district court in California has cleared the way for musician Jackson Browne to pursue a case against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and the Republican National Committee for using his music in a campaign commercial without permission. The United States District Court for the Central District of California refused to dismiss the case revolving around use of the song “Running on Empty.”
McCain and RNC had argued that the fact that the unauthorized use occurred in a political campaign put it under First Amendment and copyright fair use protection.
Browne’s attorney, Lawrence Iser, of the Santa Monica, California law firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Andisert, said: "The Court’s decision is a solid victory for songwriters and performers and reflects an affirmation of their intellectual property rights and their freedom from being conscripted as involuntary endorsers of political candidates and campaign messages. We are happy that the Court recognized that persons and parties running for office are not entitled to violate an individual’s intellectual property and publicity rights simply because they are engaged in political campaigns. We look forward to presenting Jackson Browne’s case to the jury."
RBR/TVBR observation: Broadcasters may find themselves assisting in the production of political ads from time to time – so this is a word to the wise. To assure there will be no unpleasant repercussions down the road, get permission or write something on your own.