Music powerhouse Rihanna and veteran Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose have joined a long list of music artists ordering Donald Trump to stop using their music at his rallies.
On Sunday, Rihanna’s megahit Don’t Stop the Music was played at a Trump event in Chattanooga, TN. After a Washington Post reporter notified the artist that the Trump team was using the song, she replied, “Not for much longer… me nor my people would ever be at or around one of those tragic rallies.”
Rihanna’s legal team has since served the Trump campaign with a cease and desist letter.
“It has come to our attention that President Trump has utilized [Rihanna’s] musical compositions and master recordings, including her hit track ‘Don’t Stop the Music,’ in connection with a number of political events held across the United States,” Rihanna’s legal team wrote.
“Trump’s unauthorized use of Ms. Fenty’s music… creates a false impression that Ms. Fenty is affiliated with, connected to or otherwise associated with Trump.”
Axl Rose has also expressed his opposition to the use of Guns N’ Roses music being played at Trump rallies. (Warning: tweets contain strong language)
“Just so ya know… GNR like a lot of artists opposed to the unauthorized use of their music at political events has formally requested r music not b used at Trump rallies or Trump associated events,” wrote Rose in a series of tweets.
“Unfortunately the Trump campaign is using loopholes in the various venues’ blanket performance licenses which were not intended for such craven political purposes, without the songwriters’ consent. Can u say ‘sh—bags?!'” he continued.
“Personally I kinda liked the irony of Trump supporters listening to a bunch of anti Trump music at his rallies but I don’t imagine a lot of ’em really get that or care.”
Rihanna and Rose join a long list of artists who have demanded that Trump stop using their music at rallies, among them Adele, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Neil Young, Queen, R.E.M. and Elton John.
Last week, Pharrell Williams also sent a cease and desist letter to the Trump team after they played his hit Happy just hours after 11 people were killed and many more injured at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
According to The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), venues such as convention centres, arenas and hotels normally have public performance licenses, but they often exclude music used during conventions, expositions and political rallies.
And even if the campaign obtains the correct copyright licenses, if artists don’t want their music associated with a campaign, they can take legal action claiming “Right of Publicity,” which protects artists’ images in many states; “False Endorsement,” which argues that the use of the artist’s work implies that they support the product or candidate; or the Lanham Act, which protects artists from the dilution of a trademark through its unauthorized use.
“And when ur phone’s blowin’ up cuz peeps r seein’/hearin’ Sweet Child on the news at a rally, as a band we felt we should clarify r position,” tweeted Rose, who is encouraging fans to get out and vote. “Peace!”
The U.S. midterm elections are happening today. For news and updates, visit CBC News.