As some may recall, veteran rocker Jackson Browne was none-too-pleased when then-Presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign aired a television commercial that featured Browne’s hit song “Running on Empty.” The use of that particular song was presumably intended to suggest that McCain’s Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, was touting energy policies that lacked substance.
There were other rockers crying foul during that time, including the Wilson sisters of Heart, Boston’s Tom Scholz, Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters and even – believe it or not – Survivor of “Eye of The Tiger” fame. None of them wanted their music associated with John McCain and his campaign for President.
Much of the hubbub was a result of music that was selected to be played inside large convention-style venues where the McCain campaign held rallies and other events. Although letters of protest were written and public statements were made regarding the use of material written by certain performers, using material at a campaign event does not appear to be as serious as using it for a television commercial. And Jackson Browne (and his lawyers) have the check to prove it.
The McCain campaign recently decided to settle the lawsuit filed by Browne when someone inside the McCain campaign organization decided that using Browne’s material for the commercial without his consent was OK. Maybe they looked at it as a calculated risk. One that was not calculated too carefully it seems.
As is normally the case in these situations, the dollar amount of the settlement is not being disclosed. We do know, however, that McCain and the Republican Party issued apologies to Browne as well as a promise to refrain from using Browne’s material in the future.
It appears that McCain’s legal team ran out of options after several unsuccessful attempts to have the case dismissed. I guess they didn’t feel too good about their chances taking it all the way to a trial and decided to offer a settlement to Browne to close the case and cut their losses.
At this point the legal scorecard appears to read: Rockers 1, politicians 0.