Complaints about politicians using particular artists' songs are not new. We have seen them before when an artist considers a politician's views to be unsavoury or incompatible with his or her own. However a lot of the time the politician has the proper license for the song, and so the artist can do nothing to prevent its use.
In rather different circumstances, the rights holder (Universal Music) last week issued a claim against Clive Palmer of the United Australia Party (which he revived last year) for his unlicensed use of the Twisted Sisters song 'We're Not Gonna Take It'.
The allegation is that the song was unlawfully used in advertisements that relaunched his political ambitions. The filing at the Australian Federal Court claims that Palmer has ignored Universal's cease and desist notice.
Before the filing, however, Palmer released a statement saying that he did not understand how Universal or the Twisted Sisters could claim copyright in the song, as the melody was based on the 18th century hymn 'O Come, All Ye Faithful'.
Complicating the matter further, Palmer did not simply play the Twisted Sisters song: he reworked it and used lyrics that he himself had written.
The claim is likely to come down to whether it is accepted by a judge that the melody is actually from 'O Come, All Ye Faithful' or if it from the Twisted Sisters song. Thereafter it the Court will determine whether the only element of the song drawn upon is the unprotectable melody or whether it is clearly a use of a substantial part of the musical work.
If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
in: Copyright, EU/International