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Neil Young Sues Donald Trump Campaign Over Unauthorized Use of His Music

Neil Young Sues Donald Trump Campaign Over Unauthorized Use of His Music

Neil Young is suing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Online records (viewed by Pitchfork) show that the lawsuit was filed today (August 4) in a New York federal court.

As Rolling Stone notes, Neil Young posted a copy of his lawsuit on the Neil Young Archives. The copyright infringement lawsuit concerns the Trump campaign’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” and Greendale’s “Devil’s Sidewalk” at rallies and political events.

“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 lawsuit posted to NYA reads. “However, Plaintiff [Neil Young dba Silver Fiddle Music] in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a ‘theme song’ for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate.”

According to the complaint:

The Campaign [Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.] has publicly played
both “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk” numerous times
at rallies and political events for the entertainment and amusement of
those attending those rallies and political events. The Campaign
played both Songs at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 20, 2020.

The Campaign does not now have, and did not at the time of the Tulsa
rally, have a license or Plaintiff’s permission to play the two Songs
at any public political event.

Young’s lawsuit also states, “The Campaign has willfully ignored Plaintiff’s telling it not to play the Songs and willfully proceeded to play the Songs despite its lack of a license and despite its knowledge that a license is required to do so.”

In addition to damages, Neil Young is asking that the Trump campaign “be enjoined primarily and permanently from publicly performing the Songs—or any musical compositions owned by Plaintiff—and from causing or permitting the Songs to be publicly performed at public events conducted, controlled, managed, supervised, or arranged for by the Campaign and/or aiding or abetting the public performance of the Songs in any such place.”

Pitchfork has reached out to Neil Young’s attorneys, as well as representatives for the Trump campaign, for comment and more information.


Neil Young has repeatedly objected to Donald Trump’s use of his music—most notably “Rockin’ in the Free World.” After Trump played the song at a recent campaign event at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, Young tweeted, “This is NOT ok with me,” and, “I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux.”

Back in 2015, when Trump was first running for president, Neil Young’s management company stated that “Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World.’”


Read “Musicians Might Be Able to Finally Stop Trump From Using Their Songs” on the Pitch.

Published at Tue, 04 Aug 2020 18:12:07 +0000

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