The estate of Leonard Cohen are considering legal action the presidential campaign of Donald Trump after the song ‘Hallelujah’ was played twice during Trump’s speech at a recent Republican National Convention at the White House.
Tori Kelly’s cover version of the classic track by the late Canadian which was played between ‘She’s a Grand Old Flag’ and Lee Greenwood’s ‘God Bless the USA’ whilst fireworks lit up the sky, as well as pyrotechnics that spelt out ‘TRUMP’ and ‘2020’.
In reaction to the incident at the Republican National Convention Thursday night, the Cohen estate issued a statement criticising the unauthorized use of the classic song, claiming: “We are exploring our legal options,” the estate warned on Friday.
“We are surprised and dismayed that the RNC would proceed knowing that the Cohen Estate had specifically declined the RNC’s use request, and their rather brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner ‘Hallelujah,’ one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue,” said Michelle L. Rice, legal representative of the Cohen Estate.
“Had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker,’ for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song.”
Cohen’s estate’s opposition of the use of his music arrives shortly after The Rolling Stones were forced to threaten legal action against US President Donal Trump.
The move comes after a statement was issued by the performing rights organisation BMI who have insisted that Trump’s political campaign stop using music by The Rolling Stones as part of their official campaign events and rallies.
“If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed,” a statement reads.
Discussing a potential lawsuit, a BMI spokesperson told Deadline that Trump’s campaign has legal access to more than 15 million musical works in their archive under the Political Entities License. However, this particular license states that BMI have the right “to exclude musical works from the license if a songwriter or publisher objects to its use by a campaign.” Needless to say, The Rolling Stones object.
The statement continued: “BMI has received such an objection and sent a letter notifying the Trump campaign that The Rolling Stones’ works have been removed from the campaign license, and advising the campaign that any future use of these musical compositions will be in breach of its license agreement with BMI.”
Young and The Rolling Stones are now part of a growing list of musicians to voice their disapproval. The threat of legal action comes just days after the family of the late Tom Petty issued a cease and desist letter to the political campaign of Donald Trump.
The move comes after Trump’s campaign used Petty song ‘I Won’t Back Down’ during a recent rally held in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Trump was in no way authorised to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind,” the Petty family said in a statement.
“Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind,” they added. “Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together.”
Adding: “Tom wrote this song for the underdog, for the common man and for everyone. We want to make it clear that we believe everyone is free to vote as they like, think as they like, but the Petty family doesn’t stand for this. We believe in America and we believe in democracy. But Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either.
“We would hate for fans that are marginalized by this administration to think we were complicit in this usage. Concurrently, we have issued a cease and desist notice to the Trump campaign.”
See the full statement, below.