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Jackson Browne sues John McCain over song use

 Jackson Browne in May 2007

Jackson Browne is suing John McCain for using the song "Running on Empty" in a campaign ad -- and the veteran rocker is also calling the candidate a great pretender when it comes to standing up for constitutional rights.

Browne, one of rock music's most famous activists for liberal causes, is "incensed" that the presumptive Republican candidate for president has been using Browne's signature 1977 song "Running on Empty" in campaign commercials, according to the singer-songwriter's attorney. Browne filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against both McCain and the Republican National Committee on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the use of the forlorn arena anthem or any other Browne compositions, as well as damages.

They may be suing the wrong people. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers tells our colleague Seema Mehta in Colorado that the ad in question is not a McCain campaign ad but one put together by the Ohio Republican Party.

But Browne's attorney, Lawrence Y. Iser, says they have the right defendants. "We have sued the Ohio Republican Party as well, and we have been informed and believe that McCain and his campaign were well aware of the ad. We are also informed and believe that the ad was broadcast on television in Ohio and Pennsylvania.... The fact that it appears on the Internet means it also reaches an audience well beyond those states."

Iser said the lawsuit "is not politically motivated. It's a copyright infringement lawsuit, pure and simple, but the fact that Sen. McCain has used this song in a hit-piece on Barack Obama is anathema to Jackson."

Iser claims the McCain campaign has a track record of using music without permission.

"They used a John Mellencamp song until he made them stop and he used an ABBA song and a Frankie Valli song -- it's ridiculous and it's setting a terrible example," Iser said. "It's shocking that they don't even attempt to get permission. There's no copyright difference between using a song to sell cars or by people running for president. The music industry continues to suffer due to lack of respect for intellectual property rights, and a candidate for president has a duty to lead by example and ensuring their campaign does as well. The copyright protections are derived from the Constitution itself."

In the commercial in question, Barack Obama is mocked for suggesting that the country conserve gas through proper tire inflation. The suit claims that use of the song violates the Lanham Act by falsely implying that Browne is associated with or endorses the McCain candidacy.  The suit also claims the commercial violates Browne's right of publicity under California law.

Browne declined comment through Iser. The 59-year-old singer is one of the most politically immersed artists of his generation. He performed at the No Nukes concerts in 1979 and, in the years after, his albums shifted strongly toward political messaging, such as his 1986 album, "Lives in the Balance," and its harsh appraisal of the Ronald Reagan years.

There have been a number of instances through the years when performers have been angered by the use of their music by a politician. Bruce Springsteen, another No Nukes performer, cried foul when Reagan, running for re-election, invoked the patriotic imagery of "Born in the U.S.A.," a song that is actually a dark essay on the fractured American dream.

Our colleague Dan Morain, who spends most of his time tracking campaign money, passes along some of Browne's contribution history. No surprise: Browne likes Democrats. Morain reports that Browne, a modest campaign donor over the years, gave Obama $2,000 shortly after he won his Senate seat in 2004 and another $2,300 in March. Browne also has given about $5,500 to MoveOn.org, $5,266 to Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara. And he's sent $1,000 to Al Franken, the Democratic Senate candidate in Minnesota, $500 to Ned Lamont for his 2006 run for Joe Lieberman's Senate seat in Connecticut.

In the 2000 election, though, he went with Ralph Nader, giving the once and future presidential contender $2,000 for a race many Democrats still think cost Al Gore the White House.

-- Geoff Boucher

This is an updated post.

photo of Jackson Browne in 2007 by Evan Agostini/Getty Images

 
Comments () | Archives (74)

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So the only original idea that McStain has is to plagiarize everybody. John is looking more and more like Hillary everyday.

You would think that the GOP, which is supposed to be the Grand Old Party of Private Property, would have a little more respect. But then again, as we have seen in the last few elections, the GOP appears to be willing to do whatever it takes to win. (I am still waiting to hear McCain condemn Corsi's smear book.)

Not to worry. Obama has resources that the Republicans don't know about this time around: the Federation.

"Obama, Spock, and the New Star Trek Nation"
http://msa4.wordpress.com/2008/06/06/obama-spock-and-the-new-star-trek-nation/

Let's face it. If Jackson Browne loved America he would have given Maverick John McCain his music for free. But of course, Browne wouldn't recognize a hero if he were dipped in napalm and lit on fire.

Jackson Browne, a woman-beater, has-been, druggy musician objects to a war hero using his song? What a loser.

It's political ridiculousness of events such as hollywood entertainers that sues one candidate or another via political agenda (though they say it's not)... makes me want to vote for McCain even more.

Mr. Browne also performed a fundraising concert for the Nader 2000 campaign in Washington, D.C. The tag line about Nader costing Gore the election is -at this point- junk journalism since even Gore blames Clinton's behavior and his own campaign for his defeat and that of MCain's champion,
2000 Vice Presidential Candidate, Joe Leiberman.

Being a POW is not the same as being a war hero, especially considering McCain was making propaganda videos for the VC after they broke him down. A war hero would have died before accommodating the enemy. Talk about Manchurian candidates!!!

Look, in case you Republican lemmings don't get it, stealing is stealing. That make John McStain a thief. The man is nothing more than a joke.

Wife beater? No. Typical "talking points" lies from the GOP media machine (Fox) is defense of their candidate. The story began as an innuedo in a Fox-produced film about JFK Jr, based on a National Equirer photo of Darryl Hanna sport what they claim is a black eye. Police investigated the story and no charges were filed. Darryl Hanna denies any assault ever happened. Browne eventually received a formal apology from Fox and a retraction of the allegation.

See for yourself before swallowing the Fox BS: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,465716,00.html

ELECTIONJACK-08-say what you want it looks like your socialist experiment is about to be unplugged no obama rap song too bad,hillarys name is now on the floor ha ha,you guys chose your cards play your hand,

Where's the RIAA now?

very true. how the hell is McCain a war hero? tell me. i mean he got shot down if anything hes a war loser. as a pow, he got better treatment than others because his dad was a general. look it up anywhere and you'll see it's true.

Apparently because some people find problems with Browne or his politics, they believe that it is ok for McCain and the GOP to steal from him. Interesting indeed.

So the fact that McCain is illegally using a song for his own gain is good thing? Seriously?!
No matter if you're a Dem or a Republican, this is wrong. And illegal.

If the Republicans were vaguely aware of pop culture on ANY level, embracing a Jackson Browne song -- like a Bonnie Raitt song -- is Russian Roulette with six bullets. This is a no nuke, pro-humanist... It's not like he's NOT declared which team he's played for in the 70s... the 80s... the 90s... and this century.
What's tragic, though, is its a referendum about political agendas versus usurping someone work... He wrote the song. It's emblematic of a critical song cycle in his artistic cannon. It's his decision who can "license" the song -- and for what usage -- and that's no more politically charged than someone deciding who can drive (let alone take) their car.
Indeed, if someone takes your car without your permission, it's stealing. But perhaps that's splitting hairs, right? Never mind the implications of who this artist is versus the tacit endorsement being stolen from an artist who's the antithesis of the candidate using "Running On Empty" as reflective of both people's agendas.

John McBush is a war hero, but to the Vietnamese as he's responsible for destroying more U.S. aircraft then the V.C. did in the whole war.

http://boskolives.wordpress.com

Bush's trillion dollar war is what is causing all the inflation. Just like the Vietnam War caused all the inflation in the seventies. McCain is no war hero he's part of the problem. Kudos to Jackson Brown who is a true American hero.

The song fits really well. "Lawyers in Love" would fit well for both the Obamas and Clintons.

Jackson, your first several albums were great, please just sing and ditch the politics.

Obama supporters are hopping mad because these latest McCain ads, while not completely fair, still very effectively puncture the double-bubble of earnest holiness and holy earnestness with which Obama has surrounded himself.

Isn't it funny- whenever someone scores a point against the Republicans, the only response they can make is to trash the character of the person scoring. As if that has anything to do with the facts.

The McCain campaign has repeatedly and arrogantly used unlicensed music, and who knows what else (Wikipedia/foreign policy statements perhaps? See link below). That's worthy of a law suit, no matter what you think of Jackson Browne. If the Obama campaign did the same thing, then they would deserve to get sued as well. And imagine the talk radio splash if they had!!

Browne should go for everything he can on this. It may seem like a small issue, but this situation is indicative of all of the lies and obfuscations of the McCain campaign. It shows, not only how out of touch their campaign is, but how little they even care about being "in touch". Whatever it takes to expose this b**ls**t so the American people don't buy it AGAIN and blow it for themselves by electing another goofball who's response to pretty much every thing is to go to war and then throw the soldiers away when he's done with them (oh, and sell our country off to China and the Middle East- right, can't forget that, can we?).

http://blogs.cqpolitics.com/politicalinsider/2008/08/did-mccain-plagarize-his-speec.html

YeeHaw!!! Lotta broken glass here. You Libs need to improve your aim. Perhaps a good nipple could help!

John McCain is a sell-ot -- and he knows -- I hate OBama equally -- I say let's elect Jessie Ventura for president.
McCain is Bush x2 and this country can't afford that.

You say, "you libs" like somehow we're different. You're no different than I am- we're both just struggling to get by each day. The only difference is that you think the Conservative agenda is friendly to you.

These people are Not Your Friends. They have stolen from you and I and given our money to Exxon-Mobile, they have stolen from you and I and given our jobs to the 3rd World, they have stolen from you and I and have sold parts of our very infrastructure to foreign countries. They have stolen from you and I and sold your health to profit-hungry pharmaceutical and insurance companies. They have stolen from you and I and sold out the Constitution of the United States. And they've told you that it's good. And you friggin' believe them!!

I could go on- do I have to? We "libs" didn't make this up. I know that the Clintons and Barack Obama are no angels, but c'mon- John "Bomb Bomb Iran" McCain? John Keeting Five McCain?

You say, "you libs", like we have some sort of "other" agenda. You got kids? Do you know any kids? That's what we "libs" are about- our kids. That they might not inherit a planet that's we've blindly disassembled. The Republican Party is committed to and beholden to the big corporations and not to the health of the planet. Do you like to have a good living and know that your family is well taken care of? We "libs" are for that. The Republican Party is not for that.

Are you proud of this country when we are the leaders in technology and have the strongest economy? We "libs" are for that. The Republicans aren't.

mc cain germ/s get over it!!!!!. why?? leave everyone out of your rodeo!!!!!!!! withdraw....u sad thing u....

The right wing nuts here have nothing to say for their old angry man McBush except to repeat Karl Rove's talking points -- and of course to say "but he's a war hero!".

It works on Fox and on right wing blogs, so why not here?

Jackson Brown is still around? Seems to me he'd welcome any airing of his old songs.

Send in the clowns, Mr. Daryl Hannah...

If McCain's campaign is paying the BMI/ASCAP licensing fees, there's probably not much Browne can do about it. He'd let leftsts use his songs for free, though...

While the "recording artist" may not like the use of the song he wrote, I am thinking if the McCain Campaign got a license for use from the music copyright holder (often times the recording company) then what is the artist complaining about??? He got his cut of the profit. may not like the use, oh well. That is what happens when you sell or sign away the rights.

It's happened to others over the years. Count the money and sent it on to Obama if you are so incised.

There's a small problem here - the production company responsbile for making the ad paid the appropriate licensing fees for the use of the song.

Browne's copyright is signed up with ASCAP. They collect money for the use of his work and in turn pay him or his publishing company: http://www.ascap.com/ace/search.cfm?requesttimeout=300&mode=results&searchstr=2496800&search_in=c&search_type=exact&search_det=t,s,w,p,b,v&results_pp=20&start=1

Remember Jackson is the guy who believes in "environmental and societal justice." Too bad he didn't believe in that when he was slapping Darryl Hannah around. Anybody who slaps him back, in any way, is ok with me.

Jackson Browne is one of the most outstanding American artists out there. He has always cared about this country. Do your research and see how much time and money he has given to this countries needs!!! Is it right to use someones property for your benefit if it doesn't belong to you? Maybe McCain should have asked!!!!! Jackson why don't you try using something of McCains and see what happens? Like he wouldn't sue you.

Jackson Brown has always been a lightweight clueless moron. No point manning up now. What is amazing is does he think his petty harassment will garner a single vote for the cult of personality candidate (to call Obama an empty suit is an insult to clothes hangers everywhere) or lose 1 single vote to McCain. Get lost JB you washed up has been

Fla Lady wrote:
"Jackson Browne, a woman-beater, has-been, druggy musician objects to a war hero using his song? What a loser. "
-----------------------------------------------
What a typical GOP tactic....slam and slander somebody you don't like. I felt the need to shower after reading your tripe.

In the spirit of your own GOP tactics, let me take a shot at it...Speaking of your "war hero" comment, since you likely favored a man in '04 who can't prove he even showed up for guard duty, over a man who was a legitimate war hero, what exactly was McCain's heroic act?

Getting shot down?

Didn't he, after being tortured, do his captors bidding and speak out against the America (admittedly under duress)?

Didn't he attempt suicide (also under duress)?

Didn't he cheat on his wife when he returned and then drop her for a younger, trimmer, more attractive, wealthier woman?

Wasn't he a member of the Keating 5?

Outside of getting shot down, what exactly were Senator McCain's heroics?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Is this the same Jackson Browne that used to throw the no nukes concerts and rallies? If it wasn't for this genius and his contemporaries, the country would be energy independent by now.

Free Thinker wrote:
"Wife beater? No. Typical "talking points" lies from the GOP media machine (Fox) is defense of their candidate. The story began as an innuedo in a Fox-produced film about JFK Jr, based on a National Equirer photo of Darryl Hanna sport what they claim is a black eye. Police investigated the story and no charges were filed. Darryl Hanna denies any assault ever happened. Browne eventually received a formal apology from Fox and a retraction of the allegation.

"See for yourself before swallowing the Fox BS: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,465716,00.html"
------------------------------------------------------------
You may not want to waste your time educating these slanderers and swift-boaters. As is evidenced in books like 'Obama Nation," truth is not part of the GOP playbook.

I love the fact that Corsi keeps talking about 700 footnotes, as if that somehow valifidied his lies. Referencing another liar and slanderer does not give one credibility.

However, the GOP right-wing tactic of bulk buying apparently does...propelling the book to #1 on the NY Times list....as if it got there legitimately.

Larry King should be ashamed of himself for giving the nation's #1 swift-boater (and proven liar) a platform on his show.

What is wrong with the msm media?

Sorry...the answer to that one could fill a thousand books.

McShame has been stealing music, ideas, language, and tax payers money for decades. Why is he getting disability money when he says he is healthy enough to run for and become President? AND married his adulterous trophy heiress wife and they live in nine McSlime mansions and he wears $600 Italian shoes? We citizens all know that the huge unadmitted elephant R in our living rooms stand for the Republican Party and its exploitation of Obama's ethnicity. Obama's visit to Tutu in Honolulu demonstrates where his roots are, with loving grandparents and a single mother who raised him as a struggling middle-class biracial child in the most multiethnic tolerant state of the US. McSame owns NINE expensive homes and wears $600 pairs of shoes. He was a legacy student whose failing grades would never have admitted him to Annapolis if it weren't for his military elite Admiral grandfather and father. He is Bush's third term, but on its doddering last legs. Where is the scrutiny of McShame's lies, deceptions, Keating Five past, adulterous history, failed military record, out-of-control anger tantrums, ignorant statements, sheer stupidity, lobbyists corruption and more?

In the world of kicking out ads in a few days, people get sloppy. To claim the lawsuit wasn’t at least partially politically motivated…….well..

"Browne’s attorney, Lawrence Y. Iser believes otherwise: “We have sued the Ohio Republican Party as well, and we have been informed and believe that McCain and his campaign were well aware of the ad.” Iser said the lawsuit “is not politically motivated. It’s a copyright infringement lawsuit, pure and simple, but the fact that Sen. McCain has used this song in a hit-piece on Barack Obama is anathema to Jackson.”

Browne likes Democrats. Morain reports that Browne, a modest campaign donor over the years, gave Obama $2,000 shortly after he won his Senate seat in 2004 and another $2,300 in March. Browne also has given about $5,500 to MoveOn.org, $5,266 to Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara. And he's sent $1,000 to Al Franken, the Democratic Senate candidate in Minnesota, $500 to Ned Lamont for his 2006 run for Joe Lieberman's Senate seat in Connecticut."

McCain/Palin 08!!! Join Us!

Wow, all the leftists disparaging the service record of one of our war heros...amazing...not surprising though.
@John McCain is Bush - Stealing is Stealing, I agree. Lets take it further illegal is illegal so lets get rid of the illegal aliens in our nation...but yeah that will be too much truth for a leftist kool-aid drinker like you.
As far as Jackson Browne is concerned, he should be happy anyone is even playing his outdated garbage...he should take the free publicity and be happy that there might be a person out there that actually likes the garbage, would inquire about who performs it and maybe even give his sorry behind a sale.

Lighten up Jackson - go back to beating women and selling all your crap on your website, you havn't been relavent in years

Jackson Browne should be pleased he is getting any air time. The guy is washed up.

guess he is a little frustrated now that he no longer has Darryl Hannah to smack around...

From the 'unparalleled hypocrisy department', Rod wrote:
"Wow, all the leftists disparaging the service record of one of our war heros...amazing...not surprising though."
----------------------------------------------------------
In 2004 a legitimate war hero, was trashed by the GOP, who supported a man who still has not been able to verify he served his full term of service with the national guard.

I would bet the farm you had no trouble trashing THAT war hero, eh 'Rightie?'

At least lefties are in our right minds...think about it.

Here is a very interesting audio interview with Browne's attorney Larry Iser. Once you get past all the political games and bashing of personality this is a very interesting case of theft of musical copyright by people who ought to know better.

http://thelegalbroadcastnetwork.squarespace.com/the-lbn-blog/2008/8/15/jackson-browne-files-lawsuit-against-mccain.html

Audio interview is attached.

Is it just me or is Jackson Browne a possible fraternal twin of John Edwards, just with longer hair? They're almost the same age, no? (Too lazy to look it up.) I think Browne should have his lawyer invite Edwards to join the legal team suing McYouKnowWho. And by the way, I see no reason Edwards should be out of consideration as Attorney General when Obama wins, just because of personal behavior. Got it, John? Forgive me, it's Friday.

Hey Rod
Are you still wearing that purple bandaid.? No problem
trashing that veteran, right?
Hypocrite

Browne wouldn't recognize a hero if he were dipped in napalm and lit on fire.

I'm not so sure about that. I guess there's only one way to find out, but it might be a bit painful for Senator. McCain. On second thought, with him being the big ol' war hero and POW camp surviror that he is, a little napalm and a little fire might not faze him in the least.

It's hilarious that some commenters are cheering McCain for stealing Brown's song for his political ads, at the same time complaining that Brown should stay out of politics. Um hello??? It was McCain that co-opted Brown's work for a political agenda, not the other way around.

Jackson Browne should be happy to allow McCain to use his music, its the only time we ever hear it anymore. I'm sick of these old hippies always suing the GOP in the hopes we'll elect one of their communists like Obama as president. Jimmy Carter was as close as we've gotten so far and look how he wrecked the nation in four years, Obama will be ten times worse. Read Obama Nation by Jerome Corsi, and learn about Black Liberation Theology and the real Barack Obama. Despite what the dems want you to think Corsi has done a marvelous job of backing up his words with over 600 foot notes.

XS you sir are a liar about McCain. He never aided and abetted the enemy, like you have. The Republicans aren't stealing anything. By law, as long as they pay the fees to play the songs, they may use them, so quit with your liberal lies and try stating a fact for once. These Hollyweird has beens are as worthless as you liberals who think life owes them something. You all need to get a life.

 
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A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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