American-Canadian musician Neil Young is suing Donald Trump's campaign for the unauthorized use of the songs "Devil's Sidewalk" and "Rockin' in the Free World." As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the president played the songs at his reelection effort's comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
"This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing," the complaint read. "However, Plaintiff in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a 'theme song' for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate."
Trump has reportedly used Young's music prior to the Tulsa rally, dating back to his 2016 campaign. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Young previously decided not to sue the president after he was told that the venues Trump used had public performance licenses from ASCAP and BMI. But both performing rights organizations have subsequently warned presidential candidates that the licenses may not provide complete protection from musicians' claims, and Young appears to be the first person who will test the subject in court.
As reported by Breitbart, Young discussed his change of heart in a blog post in which he said that Trump's decision to deploy federal agents into Portland, Oregon, was the catalyst for his decision to pursue legal action.
"He ordered this himself. This is all DJT. He told them to wear camouflage, use unmarked vehicles to take people away, innocent people peacefully protesting — their constitutional right as US citizens."Young used the post to call for local police officers to arrest the federal agents, who he called "untrained thugs" that are not qualified for the job they were sent to perform. Although Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced that the agents would be leaving the town, Trump suggested otherwise not long after her comment.
As noted by The Guardian, Young's lawsuit comes on the heels of an open letter by various high-profile artists calling for political parties to make more of an effort to obtain the rights to songs played at their rallies. According to the letter, a vigilant pursuit of such permission is the only way to ensure that candidates do not face legal action and to prevent the distortion of artists' expression or false portrayal of such artists' political support.
As The Inquisitr reported, the family of late musician Tom Petty recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Trump after the president used his song, "I Won't Back Down," at his Tulsa rally. According to the message, Petty would not have wanted his song to be used in any of Trump's rallies.