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For Political Campaigns

As the campaign season kicks into high gear, candidates and their campaigns may have questions regarding the use of music recordings and their underlying compositions. The bottom line is that it is in the best interest of the campaign to seek permission of the songwriter, artist, and copyright owners before using a song in connection with a campaign, whether to rally the crowd, as a lead up song, a signature song of the campaign, or in an advertisement.  

Campaigns face potentially significant risk if they use a song without such permission. For example, some campaign uses of a song can violate the copyrights in the sound recording and/or the underlying musical composition. In addition, some uses can violate the artist’s or songwriter’s rights of publicity, lead to claims for trademark infringement or dilution under the Lanham Act, or raise claims of false endorsement, unfair competition, or other claims under state law. Moreover, songwriters and artists have been known to publicly denounce the use of their music by a candidate when they either do not share the candidate’s views or don’t want their music politicized, which can lead to further unwanted negative publicity for the candidate.

Campaigns can minimize and/or eliminate these risks by obtaining the proper permissions before using music that they do not own.

*The information provided here does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Readers should contact their own counsel to obtain advice with respect to this or any other legal matter.