More than 50 musicians have signed a letter directed at politicians on both the left and right imploring them to ask for permission before using their work at public events.
Popular artists like Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Lionel Richie and Linkin Park signed a letter from the Artist Rights Alliance addressed to both Democratic and Republican national, congressional and senatorial committees asking that they all pledge to stop using songs for political purposes without express permission from the artist or copyright holder.
“This is the only way to effectively protect your candidates from legal risk, unnecessary public controversy, and the moral quagmire that comes from falsely claiming or implying an artist’s support or distorting an artists’ expression in such a high stakes public way,” the letter reads.
The letter continues: “Being dragged unwillingly into politics in this way can compromise an artist’s personal values while disappointing and alienating fans – with great moral and economic cost. For artists that do choose to engage politically in campaigns or other contexts, this kind of unauthorized public use confuses their message and undermines their effectiveness. Music tells powerful stories and drives emotional connection and engagement – that’s why campaigns use it, after all! But doing so without permission siphons away that value.”
The Artist Rights Alliance goes on to note that in addition to clear legal issues that stem from an artist having to speak up about improper use of their material, it can often confuse the voting public and distort the campaign process.
“It should be anathema to any honest candidate to play off this kind of uncertainty or falsely leave the impression of an artist’s or songwriter’s support.”
Other artists who attached their name to the letter include Green Day, Elivs Costello, John Mellencamp, Lorde, Sia, Sheryl Crow, R.E.M. and Cyndi Lauper. Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler added their names separately from their respective bands as well.
“It (sic) an issue that has come up in previous election cycles,” Ted Kalo, the executive director of the Artists Rights Alliance, told Variety. “But has happened with much greater frequency in this cycle, and that caught our attention. At a time when Americans are joining together to stand up for their rights and demand more of politicians and big institutions, the energy to just not take it anymore was overwhelming. Rather than only taking this on piecemeal, we felt it was time to confront this problem in numbers with a simple request: Ask and receive permission first.”
Earlier this month, Neil Young penned an open letter to Donald Trump after the president’s use of one of his songs at a Fourth of July event in South Dakota. Young, however, is not one of the artists who signed the letter.
The complete list of artists who signed the letter is below:
Artist Rights Alliance
Beth Nielsen Chapman
Daniel Martin Moore
Fall Out Boy
Kurt Cobain estate
Panic! At The Disco
T Bone Burnett