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Lorde, Pearl Jam and more sign open letter asking politicians to seek consent for music use

28 July 2020, 15:48 | Written by Cerys Kenneally

Lorde and Pearl Jam are among the many artists that have signed an open letter requesting that politicians need to seek consent before using music at a political event.

As well as being signed by Lorde and Pearl Jam, the open letter addressed to campaign committees is also signed by Aerosmith, Alanis Morissette, Blondie, Courtney Love, Cyndi Lauper, Elvis Costello, Fall Out Boy, Green Day, Jason Isbell, Keith Richards, the Kurt Cobain estate, Lionel Richie, Lykki Li, Mick Jagger, Okkervil River, R.E.M., Sia, and many others.

Pitchfork reports that the open letter has been published by the Artist Rights Alliance (ARA), and it's a response to the unauthorised use of music by politicians for political events.

The ARA (and the artists that signed the letter) ask campaign committees "to pledge that all candidates you support will seek consent from featured recording artists and songwriters before using their music in campaign and political settings. This is the only way to effectively protect your candidates from legal risk, unnecessary public controversy, and the moral quagmire that comes from falsely claiming or implying an artist's support or distorting an artists' expression in such a high stakes public way."

"Being dragged unwillingly into politics in this way can compromise an artist's personal values while disappointing and alienating fans - with great moral and economic cost," the letter adds. "For artists that do choose to engage politically in campaigns or other contexts, this kind of unauthorised public use confuses their message and undermines their effectiveness."

The letter also calls unauthorised use of music for political events "dishonest and immoral", adding that it "undermines the campaign process, confuses the voting public, and ultimately distorts elections."

The ARA have set a deadline of 10 August for campaign committees to respond to their requests. They write, "we urge you to establish clear policies requiring campaigns supported by your committees to seek the consent of featured recording artists, songwriters, and copyright owners before publicly using their music in a political or campaign setting. Funding, logistical support, and participation in committee programs, operations, and events should be contingent on this pledge, and its terms should be clearly stated in writing in your bylaws, operating guidelines, campaign manuals, or where you establish any other relevant rules, requirements, or conditions of support."

Just yesterday (27 July), Neil Young published a new post on his Neil Young Archives site revealing he was "reconsidering" suing President Trump for playing his songs at political rallies. Young wrote, "Imagine what it feels like to hear "Rockin’ in the Free World" after this President speaks, like it is his theme song. I did not write it for that."

The full open letter from the ARA and artists is available to read at
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