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  • Denny Esford

Trump Needs to “Dream On” – Steven Tyler’s Copyright Win

Campaign season is here, and that means politicians are doing anything they can to get our attention. Some have created social media accounts to win over more youthful voters, some appear on popular TV shows, and many use music to capture the attention of their target audience. Unfortunately, sometimes these attempts violate intellectual property rights.


“The Donald” for example seems to be going out of his way to get into legal hot water. Aside from his comments, he has been using songs that he does not have permission to use at campaign events. He used, then had to stop using, R.E.M.’s ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’, Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ In The Free World,’ and Aerosmith’s ‘Dream On.’ This may not seem like an issue to most people, but these artists were not pleased. Steven Tyler sent a cease and desist letter to Trump demanding that he stop playing the song at campaign events, as Tyler did not give his permission for the use. Tyler claims that, not only does the use falsely imply that he is connected with or endorses Trump, it violates copyright law. When Trump did not stop playing the song, Tyler sent another letter.


The copyright issue takes front and center here. Tyler is not disclaiming Trump as a candidate or making any personal attacks. “My intent was not to make a political statement, but to make one about the rights of my fellow music creators,” Tyler wrote in his October essay on copyright law. He went on to say that artists need the ability to more effectively control on how their copyrighted music is used. If this all sounds familiar to you, you’re right. The letter struck the same chord as Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple.


Artists are standing up for themselves like never before—using a variety of platforms, from music streaming to political campaigns. Copyright reform is becoming a movement, as many artists feel that the laws in America need to change to better protect the artists and phase out government regulation.


Tyler’s letters, and those of other artists are starting to find more public and sympathetic audience. Naturally, Trump could resist a quip once the incident was worked out, tweeting “Steven Tyler got more publicity on his song request than he’s gotten in ten years. Good for him!” And Trump was correct – now the public is aware of Tyler’s plea to reform copyright law.

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