Once Again, Politics and Rock Collide

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Fresh on the heels of news regarding Eagles veteran Don Henley’s tentative legal victory over a California Republican, we’re now hearing that Canadian rock trio Rush is involved in an effort to get another politician to stop using their music.

The Henley case resulted from a decision by Assemblyman Chuck DeVore’s campaign that two of Henley’s songs were fair game for use while creating a couple of music videos that poked fun at DeVore’s political rivals, which included Senator Barbara Boxer and President Obama. DeVore hopes to unseat Boxer in the next election if he manages to win the Republican primary in July.

This is a case where politics probably played a significant role in Henley’s decision to file a copyright infringement lawsuit, since Henley is a well-known and very generous supporter of Democratic candidates. Henley’s support for Democrats was no secret, but this site reveals the extent of his dedication to Democratic causes; even contributing to candidates far-removed from his home state of California.don-henley-rush-copyright

Contributing to candidates in other states is nothing new, and is well within the law, but at the same time, it’s an issue that’s been debated. Some wonder whether citizens should be allowed to influence the outcome of political races in places other than their home states. I was a little surprised to see that Henley was listed as a contributor to the campaign of Democrat Paul Hodes right here in my home state of New Hampshire.

Henley’s legal victory is not yet finalized, even though U.S. District Judge James Selna agreed with Henley’s contention that the videos produced by the DeVore campaign infringed on the his copyrights. At the same time, the judge rejected Henley’s claim that DeVore violated federal laws against making false advertising claims.

If the judge’s tentative decision is made final, DeVore may be facing the prospect of coughing up a few bucks to hand over to Henley, something he can probably afford to do if he’s got the money to run for the U.S. Senate. Check this out for more detail on the Henley-DeVore legal battle.

The Rush case is a little more perplexing, since reports indicate that the group’s lawyer has warned Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul to stop using the group’s music for campaign purposes. Apparently, the band’s songs “The Spirit of Radio” has been played at campaign events, and “Tom Sawyer” was used for an internet fund-raising video.

What may be a little confusing about this case is that Paul, son of former Presidential candidate Ron Paul, is seen by many as a libertarian; much like his father, who currently serves in Congress as the Representative from the 14th district of Texas.

Whether or not either of them is a “libertarian” or “Libertarian,” or whatever, is a matter for debate among those who wish to take up such matters, but that’s a subject for another website.

Even so, there’s evidence to support the supposition that the members of Rush – lyricist Neil Peart in particular – have libertarian leanings themselves. Peart’s early lyrics champion the cause of freedom from oppression, and were inspired, in part, by Ayn Rand, originator of the Objectivist philosophy.

Although one might argue that Peart may be the sole member of the group with strong libertarian leanings, it’s hard to imagine his band mates going along with lyrics that would be in opposition to their own philosophies. Bassist and lead singer Geddy Lee, himself the offspring of Holocaust survivors, is someone who likely values freedom, and the rights of the individual.

What the members of Rush think about Objectivism, libertarianism and other weighty matters may be documented elsewhere. What role they did or did not play in this warning to Rand Paul is not clear at the moment.

Some fans suspect that the group’s record company has more to do with it than the band themselves. Others may disagree, but we’ll certainly keep our eyes open for any further developments.

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