Hours before President Trump went to the University of Tennessee on Chattanooga on Sunday night, Rihanna's "Do not Stop the Music" reverberated through the McKenzie Arena with 11,000 seats. "The meetings of Trump are different than anything else in politics," wrote Philip Rucker of The Washington Post on Twitter, where he scene: employees throw Trump shirts in the crowd "like a ball game" lines extend the doors.
"Keep on rocking", exclaimed Rihanna's recorded voice. "Please do not stop it, please do not stop, please do not stop the music."
But when the pop star heard that her 2007 hit number was on show at the rally, her answer was unambiguous: she actually wanted the music to stop.
"Not too long", she tweeted, in response to the use of her song by Trump. "… neither I nor my people would ever be in or around any of those tragic rallies."
The Barbadian singer can not vote in the United States, but has made no secret of her political preferences: she has been a vocal critic of the president. Last year she called him an "immoral pig" after he signed an executive order that banned citizens of seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States in January 2017 and criticized his reaction to the destruction of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
Weeks before the 2016 elections, Rihanna was spotted with a T-shirt with a picture of Hillary Clinton's face printed on it. After the inauguration of Trump she appeared on the Women's March in New York in a pink sweatshirt and matching tutu and dabbed them for the Trump Tower.
But can she actually prevent Trump from playing her music?
The answer is complicated. When a politician wants to use a song as background music during a rally, his campaign needs a public performance license from the copyright owner of the music composition, rather than one of the recording artists, the intellectual property lawyer Danwill Schwender stated in a 2017 article in & # 39; American Music & # 39 ;, a scientific journal published by the University of Illinois Press. Radio and TV ads are a different story – the owner of the sound recording, usually the artist's label, has to license the song to the campaign.
In the United States, the copyrights for most musical compositions belong to one of the two rights organizations: the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), which manage 23.5 million numbers between them. In 2012, BMI created a separate license for political entities, Schwender wrote, allowing musicians to unsubscribe if they do not want their numbers to be used during rallies. ASCAP has introduced a similar provision, according to NPR.
Musicians from Adele and Neil Young have asked Trump to stop playing their numbers during campaign stops and some have taken advantage of that clause. In October 2015, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler demanded that the Trump campaign "Dream On" would stop during rallies and that BMI would attract the public performance rights for the song. (Trump's August 21 rally in Charleston, W. Va., Featured Aerosmith's "Livin" On the Edge ", which suggests a new non-canceling letter from Tyler.) Similarly, after the Republican National Convention Queen & # 39; s license granted "We Are the Champions" In 2016, the band chose to exclude the number from use for future political events.
As The Post & # 39; s Amy B Wang reported last week after Pharrell Williams had asked Trump to stop his 2013 hit "Happy" during political events, ASCAP politicians warns that even if a campaign has been granted a license to number, they still have the permission of the artist. According to the guidelines of the ASCAP, dissatisfied artists could initiate legal proceedings under the Lanham law, which is intended to prevent the brand from becoming diluted by unauthorized use or "right of publicity" laws that are known artists in some states. provide protection .
But as Forbes & # 39; s Melinda Newman wrote: "The problem is that both are untested in campaign use because no artist or songwriter ever seems to have committed a lawsuit following a campaign violation – or at least as far as we could find. "
Meanwhile, Trump likes to end his demonstrations with the Rolling Stones & # 39; & # 39; You can not always get what you want & # 39 ;, even though it is against the wishes of the band. And there is not much that the group can do to stop him, Mick Jagger said in 2016.
"So the point is when you appear in America … If you're in a public space like Madison Square Garden or a theater, you can play any music you want 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 them, they can play whatever they want."
Most of the typical locations for campaign events, such as arenas and convention centers, already have a general license for an executive agency, according to Schwender. That is why "Sweet Child O & # 39; Mine" is played at Trump rallys despite requests from Guns N & # 39; Roses to claim the opposite, Axl Rose said on Sunday.
"Unfortunately, the Trump campaign uses loopholes in the general performance licenses of the different venues that were not intended for such hurt political purposes without the permission of the songwriters," he said. wrote on Twitter.
In his article, Schwender noted that the RNC could theoretically use a conference center's license to play Queen's "We Are the Champions" and that the site's license would be the license of the campaign – or the lack of it – replaces.
"Although a BMI spokesman stated that" would not be appropriate ", using a song as random music in the background as opposed to the" themed music "of a campaign may change the analysis," he wrote. "The court has not yet tested this argument."
For musicians there is little financial reward for chasing such a lawsuit. And it is always possible that the campaign could voluntarily choose not to play Rihanna's music at her request, as they did for Young in 2015. Meanwhile, Rihanna's attitude has earned her praise for some Democratic politicians.
"Good for @rihanna," wrote Rep. Eric Swalwell (California) on Twitter. "@RealDonaldTrump has also chosen the wrong number: Would & # 39; Russian Roulette & # 39; or & # 39; Rude Boy & # 39; better fit him? & # 39;
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