Browne and McCain settle over song use

By | Published on Wednesday 22 July 2009

Sing songwriter chap Jackson Browne has accepted an apology, and some cash, from US politician John McCain, after he used one of the singer’s songs in his presidential campaign.

Browne had been seeking damages of $75,000 after his song ‘Running On Empty’ was used, without permission, in an online advert suggesting that Barrack Obama was insane for suggesting that having properly inflated tyres would result in lower fuel consumption in cars, even though it does. How much of that money Browne got hasn’t been disclosed, but an apology from McCain has been published.

McCain said in a statement: “We apologise that a portion of the Jackson Browne song ‘Running On Empty’ was used without permission”.

In response, Browne said: “This settlement is really a great affirmation of what I believed my rights to be, and all writers’ rights to be. One would hope that a presidential candidate would not only know the law but respect it. It was a matter of bringing that issue to bear”.

Several other musicians, including Foo Fighters, Heart and John Mellencamp, complained about having their songs used without permission during McCain’s campaign, on the grounds that it made them look like they agreed with his stupid policies. Whether or not they have a case to sue under copyright law will depend on how their music was used – if it was included in an advert, like with Browne, they have a case, but if it was just played at a rally then, alas, providing the venue had the right collecting society licences, there’s nothing the artist can do. Other than complain loudly.