Donald Trump Receives Legal Threat Over Use of Aerosmith's "Dream On"

Steven Tyler, who was Trump's guest at the August debate, tells the Republican candidate to cease playing his song at campaign events.
 AP Images/Invision

Donald Trump is getting scorned by a musician he seemingly adores.

On Saturday, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's reps sent Donald Trump for President Inc. a demand to stop using the power ballad "Dream On" at campaign events. The cease and desist letter was actually the second time Trump has been warned about using the song. According to the letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Trump was first told to not use "Dream On" after an Aug. 21 event in Mobile, Ala. Since then, the song has been used, including at Trump's recent rally in Georgia.

"Trump for President does not have our client’s permission to use 'Dream On' or any of our client’s other music in connection with the Campaign because it gives the false impression that he is connected with or endorses Mr. Trump’s presidential bid," states a cease and desist letter.

Tyler is now among the growing number of musicians (Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, David Byrne, etc.) who have stood up to Republican politicians over song use, though this time, the demand to stop using "Dream On" might cut a bit deeper for the man currently leading the polls.

Last year, Trump went to an Aerosmith concert and tweeted it "doesn't get any better than that."

At Trump's presidential announcement, "Dream On" played amid opera and Broadway show tunes, leading one commentator to consider the title and note a "somewhat odd choice for a presidential campaign."

Then in August, Tyler showed up at the Republican debate and was a personal guest of Trump, according to sources.

The fandom and friendship — Tyler was once a judge at Trump's Miss USA pageant and they reportedly once traveled to Russia together — doesn't buy a permission slip.

"We are unaware of any public performance license granting Trump for President the right to perform 'Dream On' in connection with the Campaign," states the cease and desist letter sent yesterday. "If Trump for President has any such license, please forward it to our attention immediately."

If Trump has a performance license from ASCAP or BMI, he might not be totally in the clear. Tyler's reps are also suggesting that use of the Aerosmith hit would imply a false endorsement under the Lanham Act as well as an infringement of Tyler's publicity rights. Those latter legal theories are untested and possibly dubious as we explained in a prior post about Neil Young standing up to Trump over use of "Rockin' in the Free World." However, Trump's repeated use of "Dream On" and closer association with Tyler over the years could add a wrinkle to any court case. Trump has also been quite aggressive on the trademark front himself. He filed a registration on "Make America Great Again" and his attacks include those selling StopTrump.us T-shirts.

The legal warning sent by Tyler's reps at LaPolt Law also suggests use of "Dream On" could constitute tortious interference as well as a privacy violation. Trump is being given 24 hours to acknowledge receipt of the letter. "If Trump for President does not comply with our demands, our client will be forced to pursue any and all legal or equitable remedies which our client may have against you," the letter concludes.

Tyler's attorney, Dina LaPolt, said in a statement: "This is not a political nor personal issue with Mr. Trump. Steven works tirelessly with both Republicans and Democrats regarding copyright reform and his position has always been consistent regarding copyright and intellectual property. Simply, one must get permission from the music creators. Steven wrote 100% of 'Dream On,' and this is about the un-authorized use of his property. Steven is a registered Republican."

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Trump's campaign and will update with any comment.

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