David Byrne is suing the Republican governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, because Crist used the great Byrne/Talking Heads track "Road to Nowhere" in a campaign ad (Crist is now running for senate). Byrne writes:
Well, using a recording of a song, or even just using that song and not the original recording, in an advertisement without permission is illegal, unless the composition has gone into the public domain. It's not just illegal because one is supposed to pay for such use and not paying is, well, theft -- it's also illegal because one has to ask permission, and that permission can be turned down.
Besides being theft, use of the song and my voice in a campaign ad implies that I, as writer and singer of the song, might have granted Crist permission to use it, and that I therefore endorse him and/or the Republican Party, of which he was a member until very, very recently. The general public might also think I simply license the use of my songs to anyone who will pay the going rate, but that's not true either, as I have never licensed a song for use in an ad. I do license songs to commercial films and TV shows (if they pay the going rate), and to dance companies and student filmmakers mostly for free. But not to ads.
I'm a bit of a throwback that way, as I still believe songs occasionally mean something to people -- they obviously mean something personal to the writer, and often to the listener as well.
05.25.10: Yours Truly vs. the Governor of Florida (David Byrne's journal)
Talking Heads: Little Creatures (album link @ Amazon)
- David Byrne: Playing the Building TV
- BB Video: "The People Tree," David Byrne / NASA Project
- Interview with David Byrne
- David Byrne with Santigold: "Please Don't," from "Here Lies Love ...
- David Byrne's snapshots of UK police posters.
- David Byrne and Brian Eno's kick ass new album in a million ...
- BB exclusive: new track from David Byrne + Brazilian Girls (audio ...
- David Byrne: I was BoingBoing-blocked at Denver airport.
Read more in Music at Boing Boing
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.