McCain, running on empty, takes on Jackson Browne
John McCain used several popular rock songs to help defibrillate supporters during his campaign, but the only hearts he got thumping were those of the songwriters and performers. Almost all of them had their lawyers send McCain "cease and desist" letters, and at least one artist - Jackson Browne - sued. McCain had used Browne's song "Running on Empty" to accompany his "Drill, baby, drill" campaign theme.
In response to the suit, McCain's lawyers claim that Browne was just trying to get publicity for his new album, which came out in September. They also claim that McCain had the right to use the tune whenever and wherever he wanted to because he was running for president - not trying to make a profit off the song.
The self-promotion angle will be a tough one to prove in court, but if McCain's lawyers can sway jurors on the "political speech as public interest" claim, they may set a precedent that will make any song fair game for any political campaign.
Which means in 2012 you may hear "American Idiot" playing at Sarah Palin rallies.