Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The Republican National Committee, and Campaign Songs
July 26, 2016 9:32 PM - Season 3, Episode 18 - Subscribe

This week....
  • The 2016 Democratic National Convention, and Hillary Clinton's choice of Tim Kaine as her VP pick.
  • David Cameron's successor Teresa May's controversial pick of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.
  • And Now: A Summary of Roger Ailes' Contribution to Our Political Discourse
  • Main story: A recap of the 2016 Republican National Convention. (12m)
  • And Now: A Few More Highlights From the Republican National Convention
  • Referencing both the RNC's unapproved use of Queen's "We Are The Champions" for their convention, and the long history of Americal political parties misappropriating music, often unlicensed and frequently ironically, LWT got Michael Bolton, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Cyndi Lauper, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Dan Reynolds, Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson together to make a music video to speak against the practice. (7m)

The 2016 US Presidential Election: "America's 3-D IMAX Shit-Fit Dumpster Fire 2016"
Boris Johnson: "A grown man who looks like a problem child at a daycare center."

Opening image: Pikachu with the captions "Catchem Allus" and F. 37 POKEMON GO
posted by JHarris (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I saw Campaign Songs in the YouTube title, I was a little sad it wasn't in the vein of Nixon Now. Trump won't stop stealing songs until he can commission his own classy song with all the best lyrics.
posted by Gary at 9:54 PM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Who never had an honest thought,
Who to their senses others brought?
And has himself a Tartar caught?
Van Buren! Van Buren!

Who like the wily serpent clings,
Who like the poisonous adder stings,
Who is more base than basest kings,
Van Buren! Van Buren!

Who rules us with an iron rod,
Who moves at Satan's beck and nod,
Who heeds not man who heeds not God?
Van Buren! Van Buren!

Who would his friend his country sell,
Do other deeds too base to tell,
Deserves the lowest place in Hell,
Van Buren! Van Buren!

I mean. I guess there's some comfort in that candidates have always been assholes to each other as far as vitriol goes, but man, appeals to populist rhetoric scare the hell out of me.

(and as a nitpick -- even if you believe that President Obama (man, maybe it's either the German upbringing, or the military training, but talking-heads dropping titles of the Candidates, President, Senators, etc grinds on me) is Muslim... freedom of religion in this country is one of the first enumerated rights--- wait, wait, yeah. It's the first one. ... so... what's the issue? The pillars of Islamic faith are the profession of faith, acts of charity, prayer, fasting, and the Haijj, so unless you don't like travel to holy sites, aren't those all things that align with the espoused values of the American Christian Right, at least on paper? And while there are significant differences between Islam and Christianity, they're both monotheistic religions that go back to the God of Abraham... so the "not the same God I pray to" comment... doesn't make sense...)
posted by Seeba at 6:23 AM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Why are artists not suing the crap out of these politicians (other than PR I guess)? All music use has to be licensed. How do they not get this?
posted by LizBoBiz at 7:38 AM on July 28, 2016

Why are artists not suing the crap out of these politicians (other than PR I guess)?

It's one thing to have a tweet or a line in an AP story about how you don't like a politician and don't want him to use your song; it's another entirely to hire a lawyer to sue an enterprise that has literally a billion dollars in cash lying around.

Also, there is some component of PR. If you tweet "@realDonaldTrump sucks and I don't want him to use my song", it's kind of a story for a day, and maybe a couple of Trumpers will remember forever that you tweeted that and never buy another of your albums or go to your concerts. If you sue him, you're giving those people a lot more time to remember that you don't share their politics.

As Michael Jordan put it, "Republicans buy sneakers too."
posted by Etrigan at 7:53 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]

Why are artists not suing the crap out of these politicians (other than PR I guess)? All music use has to be licensed. How do they not get this?

Because the music usually has been licensed.

Sound recordings (actual tape of Bruce Springsteen singing Born in the USA) don't get protection under the federal US copyright act against unauthorized performances (17 USC 106(4), 17 USC 117).

The underlying musical works (lyrics/sheet music/etc. for Born in the USA) do, but most artists (via their labels) have outsourced the licensing of the performance/broadcast rights to their music to ASCAP and BMI and the like, who then sell blanket licenses to the venues/organizations where the music gets played, which is wrapped up in the fees that the venues charge to the campaigns.

So the politicians (or, at least the campaigns) have every legal right to use the song in the way that the songs usually get used (entrance/exit music, etc).

If artists don't want this to happen, then they need to sell more restrictive rights to the underlying musical works so that not just anyone who pays the fees can use it. Of course, most artists don't have that kind of power, but that's a whole 'nother John Oliver rant.

Artists who complain about politicians "stealing" their work are the ones who don't get it. Artists who complain about being associated with politicians that they literally hate are fully within their free speech rights to do so publicly.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:50 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks sparkelmotion. Oliver didn't really go into it and in the song, Usher says something like "it's called licensing" or something that made me think the politicians were just using whatever song they liked with no concern for the legal aspects.
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2016

I'm sure there are instances where campaigns screw up and do actually use music in an unlicensed way (I'm thinking, say, a campaign video -- synchronization rights are weird).

But yeah, LWT was (I assume intentionally) coy about the actual copyright issues here.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:14 PM on July 28, 2016

While the campaigns are likely getting licensing from ASCAP/BMI/etc and so are covered on copyright, the artists do still have some legal recourse around protecting their trademark/brand/image depending on how the songs are getting used. ASCAP has a nice quick summary of this here [pdf] .
posted by bassooner at 1:01 PM on July 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

John Oliver was on Stephen Colbert last night, mostly talking about future step-dad VP Tim Kaine.
posted by Gary at 12:22 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh gosh that was so great, Gary. John Oliver was so relaxed and giggley. I loved his Tim Kaine impressions. In fact my husband and I had to watch Time Kaine's speech again to see if he did that grimacing face.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2016

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