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With Donald Trump losing the 2020 presidential election, singer-songwriter Neil Young has decided not to pursue him any longer in court over the playing of “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk” at a campaign rally. On Monday, papers were filed that dismissed the copyright case.
Young filed suit back in August with the allegation that Trump’s campaign lacked a performance license. The complaint was the culmination of years of dissatisfaction by Young over Trump’s use of his music. Notably, Young almost sued back in 2016 but ended up not doing so after being told that the campaign venues had obtained public performance licenses from ASCAP and BMI. After these PROs attempted to limit political uses of music, songwriters have flooded Trump’s campaign with objections. The suit had the potential of deciding the legality of BMI’s move as well as clarify copyright standards.
The suit by Young has now been dismissed with prejudice, meaning that claims can’t be renewed. This typically is a strong sign of settlement although the lawyers involved haven’t yet responded to a request for clarification. The notice of dismissal came on the day in which Trump was due in court to respond to Young’s claims.
Trump is still facing another copyright suit over music, although that other case entails use of a song in a campaign commercial, which requires a different type of license. That lawsuit is being pursued by Eddy Grant over “Electric Avenue,” and Trump is attempting a fair-use defense.
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