Copyright Infringement

Neil Young Ceases Copyright Case Against Donald Trump

As Donald Trump seems certain to lose his 2020 presidential bid, singer-songwriter Neil Young has decided not to continue to fight him in court over the use of his songs “Devil’s Sidewalk” and “Rockin’ in the Free World” at Trump’s campaign rallies. Papers were filed on Monday to dismiss the copyright case.

Back in August, Young filed a lawsuit against Trump’s campaign, alleging that they did not obtain a performance license. The filing was the culmination of years of Young’s discontent over Trump’s unauthorized use of his music. He nearly sued in 2016 but was told that the campaign venues had public performance licenses from BMI and ASCAP.

After the performance rights organizations tried to limit politicians’ use of music, songwriters swamped Trump’s campaign with complaints. Young’s lawsuit may have been able to settle the legality of BMI’s actions and clarify copyright standards.

Young’s suit was dismissed with prejudice, which means that claims cannot be renewed. This usually suggests a settlement, yet lawyers involved in the case have yet to respond to a request for further information. On the day of dismissal, Trump was supposed to appear in court to respond to the claims.

Trump faces another lawsuit, for the use of Eddy Grant’s song, “Electric Avenue,” which was used in a campaign commercial and requires a different kind of license. In this case, Trump is employing a fair-use defense.

Neil Young has decided not to continue a copyright infringement case against the Trump campaign, which claimed unauthorized use of his music at Trump rallies.

The Hollywood Reporter – December 7, 2020 – Eriq Gardner

Scroll to Top