Monday, September 8, 2008

Destined to be a "Heartless" Barracuda?

The Republican National Convention rocked last week to Heart's 70's hit Baracuda when Sarah Palin took center stage. Apparently, the Wilson Sisters who make up the band are none to happy with the use of their song by the Republicans. "I think it's completely unfair to be so misrepresented," singer Nancy Wilson told Entertainment Weekly. "I feel completely f****ed over." The McCain campaign responded that all license fees were covered under U.S. copyright law by the blanket fee paid by the St. Paul venue.

The barracuda, of course, is a large fearsome fish known for its strong jaws! Wilson commented "[Barracuda] was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women ... There's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there." Harsh! Unfortunately for Heart, the tune does seem to be covered by the BMI/ASCAP blanket license. Under the blanket licensing, the artists do not retain any moral or political rights to object to the use of licensed music. Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court long ago blessed the blanket license practices in Broadcast Music, Inc. v. Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc.
As a matter of commercial law: no breach of contract, no damages. Simple as that.

Even if Heart can persuade the McCain campaign to cease and desist, another problem for Heart is that fans have adopted the "Barracuda" image (complete with song) for Sarah Palin as well.

So, at least for now Palin can have her barracuda tune and campaign to it, so long as the blanket license applies. Perhaps ABBA is next in line to raise a complaint?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree the public performance of the musical composition "Barracuda" was covered by the blanket license but wonder whether the RNC or broadcast network licensed the right to synchronize the musical composition with the visual portion of the music ("synchronization license") or the right to use the master recording as part of the broadcast ("master use license"). Those rights are wholly separate from the rights granted by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC.