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Rolling Stones working with BMI to stop Trump’s use of song at rallies

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THE Rolling Stones perform during their No Filter US Tour at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, Aug. 22, 2019. — REUTERS/MARIO ANZUONI

LOS ANGELES — For years, it has seemed as if Donald Trump can always get what he wants, at least when it comes to using classic rock and pop hits at his campaign rallies against the wishes of the original artists. But the Rolling Stones, who have tried for years to keep the president from appropriating “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” as his walk-off music, have not thrown in the towel. On Saturday, the group sent out a statement saying it is enlisting BMI, the performing rights organization that oversees public use of the song, in their quest to keep the track from being used for politically partisan purposes. And the band says there’ll be a lawsuit if the president continues using the song without a license. “This could be the last time President Donald Trump uses Stones songs,” reads the headline to a release sent out by the Stones’ reps. The statement reads, in part: “Despite cease & desist directives to Donald Trump in the past, the Rolling Stones are taking further steps to exclude him using their songs at any of his future political campaigning. The Stones’ legal team [is] working with BMI… BMI (has) notified the Trump campaign on behalf of the Stones that the unauthorized use of their songs will constitute a breach of its licensing agreement. If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists, then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed.” As these disputes have arisen, the issue is whether a song’s use in a campaign rally is covered by a blanket license held by the host venue for all performance purposes. BMI is joining the Stones in contending that the Trump campaign is subject to a license specifically established for political uses, which allows songwriters to object to and withhold use. News of the Stones taking up the fight to have their song excluded from campaign appearances follows on the heels of the Tom Petty family uniting last weekend to release a statement objecting to “I Won’t Back Down” at the president’s contentious campaign rally in Tulsa. Brendon Urie soon followed with a strongly worded statement condemning Trump’s use of the Panic! at the Disco song “High Hopes” at the same rally. The long list of musicians who’ve previously publicly objected to Trump campaign song use includes Neil Young and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe. — Reuters

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