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Neil Young drops copyright lawsuit against Donald Trump


Neil Young has voluntarily dropped his lawsuit against Donald Trump. The case was built around the rocker’s anger at the current president relentlessly using his music as part of a political campaign.

After some very public back and forths in regards to the issue, Young eventually plotted a legal battle in order to resolve the situation. However, according to Ben Sisario of The New York Times, the musician has pulled the plug on a potential day in court.

The legal action first arrived over Young’s claim of unauthorised use of his music. As part of a speech at Mount Rushmore, Donald Trump used Young’s song ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ among a few others from the singer-songwriter. Young initially reacted with a Tweet in response to the infringement but has revealed his plans to take things a step further.

After seeing his past comments fall on deaf ears, the musician then posted an unsigned copy of his planned lawsuit which he then submitted to the Southern District of New York.

Young’s lawsuit previously stated: “The Campaign does not now have, and did not at the time of the Tulsa rally, have a license or Plaintiff’s permission to play the two Songs [‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ and ‘Devil’s Sidewalk’] at any public political event.” 

Young was said to be seeking “statutory damages in the maximum amount allowed for wilful copyright infringement.”

The lawsuit also claimed that the Trump campaign has “willfully ignored [Young] telling it not to play the Songs and wilfully proceeded to play the Songs despite its lack of a license and despite its knowledge that a license is required to do so.”

You can see Young’s original lawsuit, here.

Young’s opposition of the use of his music arrived 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.