Neil Young sues Trump campaign for playing songs at rallies
Rock legend Neil Young has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against President Trump’s reelection campaign for playing his songs at rallies without proper licensing.
The lawsuit, posted to Young’s website on Tuesday, alleges that the Trump campaign did not have the proper licensing to play “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk” at the June 20 rally in Tulsa, Okla.
“This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing,” the complaint posted to the musician’s website states. “However, Plaintiff in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song’ for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday, Young’s attorney confirmed to The Hill.
Trump has used Young’s music for years, including during the 2016 presidential race, the lawsuit notes. Trump first used one of Young’s song after announcing his plans to run for president at a 2015 rally at Trump Tower.
The complaint requests statutory damages between $750 and $150,000 for each copyright infringement.
Young recently criticized the playing of his songs at a Mount Rushmore Independence Day event Trump attended.
“I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux & this is NOT ok with me,” Young tweeted last month.
Mount Rushmore was carved into the Black Hills, which is sacred land to the Lakota, decades after the U.S. government forcibly seized the area from them.
I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux & this is NOT ok with me https://t.co/iPVcFplOHa
— Neil Young Archives (@NeilYoungNYA) July 4, 2020
Young said in June that he was exploring the possibility of suing Trump after previously saying he believed he had no legal recourse against it.
He said he was considering a lawsuit after the deployment of federal officers to Portland, Ore., specifically citing a viral video of officers pepper-spraying a Navy veteran and breaking his hand.
“Trump has no respect for our military,” Young wrote on his website. “They are not to be used on the streets of America against law abiding citizens for a Political charade orchestrated by a challenged President.”
“Our police should arrest these untrained thugs for breaking our laws,” he added. “They have zero de-escalation training, a must have for the job they are mishandling, so they’re totally unqualified to be there.”
Several other musicians, including Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie, Adele, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Rihanna and Elton John, have either disavowed Trump’s use of their music at campaign events or threatened legal action over it.
Last year, a campaign video tweeted by the president that featured Queen’s “We Will Rock You” was taken down after the band’s publisher made a complaint.
The Hill has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment.