LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – For years, it seems like Donald Trump can always get what he wants, at least when it comes to using classic rock and pop hits in his campaign rallies against the wishes of the original artists. But the Rolling Stones, which have tried for years to stop the president from appropriating “You can’t always get what you want” as his farewell music, have not given up.
On Saturday, the group released a statement saying it is recruiting BMI, the performing rights organization that oversees the song’s public use, in its quest to prevent the track from being used for politically partisan purposes. And the band says there will be a lawsuit if the president continues to use the song without a license.
“This may be the last time that President Donald Trump uses songs by the Stones,” read the headline of a statement sent by representatives of the Stones. The statement says, in part: “Despite Donald Trump’s cease and desist directives in the past, the Rolling Stones are taking additional steps to exclude him from using his songs in any of his future political campaigns. The Stones’ legal team [is] working with BMI … BMI (has) notified the Trump campaign on behalf of the Stones that the unauthorized use of their songs will constitute a violation of their license agreement. If Donald Trump ignores the exclusion and persists, he would face a lawsuit to break the embargo and play unauthorized music. ”
As these disputes arose, the issue is whether the use of a song at a campaign rally is covered by a general license held by the host venue for all performance purposes. The IMC joins the Stones in claiming that the Trump campaign is subject to a license specifically established for political uses, which allows composers to object to and retain the use.
Jodie Thomas, executive director of corporate communications for BMI, clarified the position of the performance rights organization for Variety on Saturday after the release of the Stones statement.
“The BMI Political Entities License was implemented about ten years ago to cover political campaigns,” says Thomas. “Since many political events and demonstrations often take place in places that generally do not require a music license, such as airport hangars or community camps, a Political Entities License ensures that, wherever the campaign stops, it complies with copyright law. A place license was never intended to cover political campaigns. So if a campaign tries to rely on a place license to cover their music usage, there is a risk. ”
Thomas continued: “BMI licenses political events and campaigns through its Political Entities or Organizations License, which clearly states that a campaign cannot rely on a venue license to authorize the performance of excluded work. Therefore, a political campaign cannot and should not attempt to circumvent the removal of BMI musical works under its Political Entities License by attempting to rely on another license. ”
Deadline first reported on the Stones and IMC news working together on the issue.
In a previously released statement to Variety and Deadline, BMI said: “The Trump campaign has a Political Entities License that authorizes the public performance of more than 15 million musical works in the BMI repertoire wherever campaign events occur. . However, there is a provision that allows BMI to exclude musical works from the license if a composer or publisher objects to their use by a campaign. BMI received such objection and sent a letter notifying the Trump campaign that the Rolling Stones’ works have been removed from the campaign license, and notifying the campaign that any future use of these musical compositions will violate its license agreement with BMI. ”
The news that the Stones are fighting to have their song excluded from campaign appearances follows in the footsteps of the Tom Petty family who joined last weekend to issue a statement objecting to “I Won’t Back Down “in the contentious campaign of the president in Tulsa. Brendon Urie soon followed up with a heavily worded statement condemning Trump’s use of panic! on the Disco song “High Hopes” at the same rally. The long list of musicians who have previously publicly opposed the use of Trump campaign songs includes Neil Young and REM’s Michael Stipe.
It hasn’t been addressed, as it has been since Trump started using “You can’t always get what you want” at the end of his 2016 campaign speeches, it is the message the candidate is even trying to send with a song whose title expresses the thought that expectations should be moderate.