Just weeks after Neil Diamond filed suit over Trump’s use of his “Rockin’ in the Free World” at rallies, singer-songwriter, and producer Eddy Grant filed suit against Trump and his campaign on September 1, 2020, alleging copyright infringement over the use of Grant’s 1983 hit “Electric Avenue” in a campaign video posted to Trump’s Twitter account in August 2020.
The tweet, now disabled by Twitter, featured a 55-second video of a high-speed red train representing Trump outpacing a car driven by the Democratic presidential elect Joe Biden. “Electric Avenue” plays in the background as excerpts from Biden’s previous speeches play over the song.
Grant’s legal team reached out to Trump and his campaign company advising them of the infringing conduct and demanded that they cease and desist and remove the content. While politicians are free to use any artist’s music at rallies and in public (due to the public performance licensing that outdoor areas typically obtain from performance rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI), they are not free to use the artist’s music in videos. That’s because videos require the politician to obtain a “synchronization” license and a “master use” license from the “publisher” who controls the composition. This obviously was not done by Trump or his campaign. As of September 1, 2020, the date the complaint was filed, the video remained on Twitter. It is unclear when the video was removed by Twitter or how many total views the video received, but at the time the complaint was filed, the video had 13.7 million views, likely reaching more than just Trump’s 8.5 million followers.
This lawsuit is just one of many copyright infringement lawsuits brought against Trump and his campaign during the course of his presidential run and re-election campaign. It would seem the message is clear: artists and copyright holders do not want their works associated with the Trump campaign and are taking legal action to stop it. And it is clear that Trump is violating their rights.
Grant is represented by Brian D. Caplan, Robert W. Clarida and Julie B. Wlodinguer of Reitler Kailas & Rosenblatt LLC.
Counsel information for Trump and the campaign — Donald J. Trump For President Inc. — was not immediately available.
The case is Grant et al. v. Trump et al., case number 1:20-cv-07103, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.