It appears that Gordon Brown isn’t the only politician in breach of copyright law. American presidential candidate John McCain has been accused of using a song by Jackson Browne in a campaign advert without the musician’s permission:
Last week, Jackson Browne’s management began receiving emails from people who wondered why the legendary singer and songwriter — an Obama supporter who doesn’t allow his songs to be used in advertisements of any kind — would permit his iconic rock classic “Running on Empty” to play in a John McCain campaign commercial.
As it turns out, he didn’t. According to a lawsuit filed by Browne in US District Court in Los Angeles, the Ohio Republican Party, the GOP and McCain himself are responsible for two illegal acts: infringing on Browne’s copyright and creating the false impression that Browne had endorsed John McCain.
McCain and/or his agents appear to have intentionally infringed Jackson Browne’s copyright by not seeking permission and paying for the song — a crime that warrants statutory damages of $150,000, even if no further damage was done.
On his campaign webiste, McCain has this to says about copyright law:
John McCain Will Protect The Creative Industries From Piracy. The entertainment industry is both a vital sector of the domestic economy and among the largest U.S. exporters. While the Internet has provided tremendous opportunity for the creators of copyrighted works, including music and movies, to distribute their works around the world at low cost, it has also given rise to a global epidemic of piracy. John McCain supports efforts to crack down on piracy, both on the Internet and off.
It looks like the content industries have been writing his manifesto for him! There’s no mention of fair use, no mention that perhaps copyright law is too strict, no mention of the injustice — the stealing from the public domain — when congress votes to extend the copyright term of existing works. There’s also no mention of the RIAA’s bully-boy tactics in its lawsuits against people it accuses of infringing. There’s no mention that most infringing copies are made by people who wouldn’t have bought the work anyway and therefore don’t represent a loss for the copyright holder.
And most of all, there’s no mention that the entire purpose of the Internet is to copy vast amounts of information all round the world rapidly and at negligible cost in money or effort. Which means that the only way you’ll get rid of unauthorised copying on the Internet is to shut the whole thing down. Which obviously isn’t going to happen, so politicians and content industries will just have to get used to the new reality, whether they like it or not.
Instead of considering the issues in an objective and evenhanded fashion, politicians like McCain and Brown are just seeing everything from content industries’ viewpoint. I’m sure it’s just a co-incidence that these same content industries are giving big fat bribes donations to politicians.
(see also: Techdirt)