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John McCain apologizes for using Jackson Browne song clip that hardly anyone heard or saw in the first place

John McCain Outside the CBS studios in New York City

Remember last year during the presidential campaign when the Ohio Republican Party ran a web ad online in support of Sen. John McCain and used a musical clip from Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty"?

We don't either.

Anyway, as often seems to happen in political campaigns, the Republican candidate, who along with 99.999% of Americans never saw the Web ad, got sued for copyright infringement by liberal activist Browne. Because they didn't have a license to use the artistic presentation.

Big-name targets on lawsuits help garner publicity for the suing party who never seem to mind news coverage of the music involved which, who knows, might help sell a few copies of something to somebody.

So again anyway Browne's lawyers sued the Ohio party, and the Republican National Committee and, of course, McCain, no doubt a huge lifelong fan of what's-his-name.

Well, just to wrap up one more loose end from the billion-dollar-plus '08 presidential campaign, we arJackson Brownee delighted to announce here that the aforesaid parties have reached an agreement.

According to legal tradition, the financial terms of the settlement are confidential.

However -- and here's the big news, forget healthcare -- the state party, national party and McCain himself issued a historic statement which will forever protect artistic rights from evil pols. Here it is in full:

We apologize that a portion of the Jackson Browne song 'Running On Empty' was used without permission.

Although Sen. McCain had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the creation or distribution of the Web campaign video, Sen. McCain does not support or condone any actions taken by anyone involved in his 2008 presidential election campaign that were inconsistent with artists' rights or the various legal protections afforded to intellectual property.

The ORP, RNC and Sen. McCain pledge in future election campaigns to respect and uphold the rights of artists and to obtain permissions and/or licenses for copyrighted works where appropriate.

In other words, Browne, an Obama contributor who said he was merely defending artistic rights, got nothing, zippo, nada, de rien, $00.00 out of the 11-month legal tussle. Except for the publicity. Hence, the financial agreement, which is confidential because it's empty. And the offending parties really sincerely apologized.

The people who got the real $$$$$ out of this suit were the lawyers for everybody, who bill by the hour and can now easily make their August BMW payments. Or, heck, even buy a brand new one out of the agreement. And help stimulate that German economy, which isn't running on empty.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: WireImage

Comments () | Archives (3)

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Songs are funny things.

People write 'em and others fall in love with them. We like them so much, we think they belong to us because they are so interwoven in the fabric of who we are.

But when a writer writes a song, this is his book. He writes it once, hoping it will communicate with the world enough for the world to want to have their own copy. The .07 cents that the writer gets per song sold as part of a CD isn't the whopping cash many people think they get.

In this upside-down world, the record industry, through their own bad financial judgement and thinking that they can spoon/force feed people what they want them to hear, is reaping the karma that the internet and illegal downloading brings.

This isn't the fault of the writers but they are the ones who are losing the most.

In America, until further notice, if someone writes something with the special skill that they have developed over a lifetime of studying, and sold over a similar amount of effort and shoe leather (and a miracle or two thrown in), they deserve the paultry amount that Mr. McCain and the others can easily afford.

So I do take a little exception to this blogger/writer's gloating that Mr. Browne (one of the best songwriters of the last 50 years) didn't get one penny after spending so much on lawyers to defend his right to be paid for his work.

What if you came in to work one day and your boss said, "We're not going to pay you this month because we don't think you deserve to be paid?" Wouldn't you want to defend your right to be paid?

The only difference there is that you have a choice not to work under those conditions. I guess a closer analogy would be that your boss said, "We're not paying you for the last month of work because our lawyers fought with your lawyers and they said that I didn't have to pay you."

Food for thought.

Artist Management

"[T]he financial terms of the settlement are confidential.... [Browne] got nothing, zippo, nada, de rien, $00.00..."

Could you at least pretend to make sense? You simultaneously tell us that the settlement was confidential -- i.e. we don't know how much (if anything) Browne got -- and then shortly thereafter you turn around and tell us he got nothing based on.... well based on nothing.

If a person steals something for their own use without any compensation to the rightful owner, that person is a thief. The GOP has major problems differentiating between right and wrong, but they have no problems justifying their actions through transparent fuzzy logic.
For a political group who devastated the global economy with in an eight year period of time, you would think that we would be hearing less from them as they re-evaluate their values.


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About the Columnist
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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