Rolling Stones Threaten Legal Action Over President Trump Song Usage
Update: On Saturday, the Rolling Stones released a statement, threatening to sue. “This could be the last time President Donald Trump uses Stones songs. Despite cease & desist directives to Donald Trump in the past, the Rolling Stones are taking further steps to exclude him using their songs at any of his future political campaigning. 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 breach of its licensing agreement. If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists, then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed.”
It turns out that Tom Petty's family wasn't the only one upset to have music appropriated for a Donald Trump presidential campaign rally. The Rolling Stones have now taken action to prevent Trump from using "You Can't Always Get What You Want" after he did so again last weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
According to Deadline, the band first objected to Trump's usage of the song back in 2016, but he's continued to use the song. A spokesperson for ABKCO, the song’s publisher, stated that they've now “teamed up” with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to ask BMI to tell the Trump campaign to stop using their classic 1969 song at the president’s rallies.
“The Trump campaign has a Political Entities License which authorizes the public performance of more than 15 million musical works in BMI’s repertoire wherever campaign events occur,” a BMI spokesperson told Deadline. “There is a provision, however, that allows BMI to exclude musical works from the license if a songwriter or publisher objects to its use by a campaign. BMI has received such an objection and sent a letter notifying the Trump campaign that the Rolling Stones’ works have been removed from the campaign license, and advising the campaign that any future use of these musical compositions will be in breach of its license agreement with BMI.”
Asked if the Trump campaign has responded to its letter, the BMI spokesperson said, “Not as of this date.”
BMI’s Music License for Political Entities or Organizations states: “One or more works or catalogs of works by one or more BMI songwriters may be excluded from this license if notice is received by BMI that such songwriters object to the use of their copyrighted works for the intended uses by licensee. BMI shall provide written notice to licensee of any such exclusion.”
The license states, “Any performance by licensee of an excluded work or catalog of works at any event or function following receipt of such notice shall be covered by the grant and shall be deemed a material breach of this agreement, even if the venue or establishment at which the event or function takes place is separately licensed to publicly perform the works or catalog of works. Licensee shall not rely on, or use as a defense, any such separate license or claim arising out of any performance of such excluded works.”
As for the idea that songs are licensed by the venues and not the campaigns, BMI points out that while Tulsa's BOK Center has a licensing agreement, there is wording that "clearly states that a campaign cannot rely on a venue license to authorize its performance of an excluded work," therefore keeping politicians from attempting to circumvent licensing issues by putting the onus on the venue.
The Rolling Stones and Tom Petty are among a list of artists who have objected to the Trump campaign's usage of their music. Aerosmith, Queen, Guns N' Roses, Ozzy Osbourne, Panic! at the Disco and Twisted Sister are also among the rock acts that have also voiced their objections.
Top 70 Hard Rock + Metal Albums of the '70s