Sep 09 2008

Answers on the Copyright Flap

Posted by Steve Ross in John McCain

Last week there were several articles and blog posts alleging the McCain campaign was using artist’s intellectual property in violation of copyright protections. I decided to ask the people who would know, BMI and ASCAP. So far, ASCAP has not responded, but this morning I got a response from Jerry W. Bailey, BMI Senior Director, Media Relations & Business Communications. First, the question I asked:

I have a question about licensing music to be played at live events, such as political or corporate events. It is my understanding that if the producer of the event secures a license with BMI or ASCAP for the event, they can use any music they want (within the limits of the license) at the live event, so long as it is not synched to any edited video.

Assuming that this is true, what is your organization’s position on calls from artists for the McCain Campaign to stop using their songs as reported in the link below?

Mr. Bailey responded:

The Republican National Convention and Sen. McCain are licensed to perform the 6.5 million musical works in the BMI repertoire at their campaign events. Songwriters and artists are free to protest if they don’t want their songs used in such a way at these events. When music is synchronized to video, or when songs are played to the extent that they become identified with a person or product, additional copyright questions may arise that don’t involve BMI. It appears to me that your understanding of these copyright issues is generally accurate.

So, there it is, McCain is doing nothing wrong or illegal with respect to the copyright as it pertains to the interests protected by BMI.

If the McCain campaign doesn’t abide by the artist’s requests to not use a song, they may sue the RNC or McCain’s campaign. This doesn’t have anything to do with the BMI license; it goes to people identifying the song with McCain, or vise-versa.

It would take multiple viewings of events, coupled with the same song being played over and over to identify a song with a person or vise-versa. This is where Broadcast complicates matters. Broadcast takes this “more intimate” situation of the live event, and sends it to potentially millions of people around the world on a seemingly endless loop, that, can eventually lead to a song being identified with a candidate, and possibly angering the artist in question.

The solution is two-fold: 1. Immediately stop using songs by artists who have requested that you stop. The last thing you want to have to do is have any kind of conversation with the likes of Lars Ulrich of Metallica, that petulant prick who is probably a McCain supporter anyway. 2. Before you do another round of big events contact the artists’ whose songs you want to use and find one that likes you. This may be hard for the McCain campaign, as there is no national organization of musicians that shows any support for McCain except for this tool. Maybe he has some songs. If not, I suggest a royalty free library.

For my part, I’m torn. On the one hand, I want McCain to keep pissing off musicians, and those musicians to band together to start thumping him on the head publicly and frequently. It would be cool to see someone say, “John McCain doesn’t respect my property, what makes you think he’ll respect yours?” On the flip side, I don’t want even the douchiest musicians to suffer any loss of intellectual property, or worse, have their song associated with someone that they don’t want it to be associated with. Whether you like the song or not, it belongs to someone, and they’re well within their rights to protect it.

So, there ya go. The only way McCain mucks this up is by continuing to play the songs by artists that have asked him to stop. Sounds simple enough…we’ll see.

Sep 05 2008

Change Republican Style

Posted by Steve Ross in John McCain, RNC

I watched as much as I could stomach of the speeches at the Republican National Convention. Admittedly, I didn’t watch as much as I probably should have, because some of the speakers make my skin crawl.

I listened to Giuliani, and Huckabee and Fred Thompson. I caught most of Sara Palin’s Speech that sounded like a Mad Lib Mix-up of past Republican speeches. Last night I’d had enough and chose football over convention coverage. Then came McCain. I listened to the whole damn thing, and still don’t know anything about what he wants to do except “change too” and that he’ll fight me.

Change is something anyone can agree to as long as that change is ill defined, or something environmental that does little to nothing. Speaker after speaker harkened back to the ideas of the Reagan years. Over and over the attendees were peppered with old ideas, old skewed reality, old logical fallacies, and outright lies. Apparently, Republican change is something that means a new person dolling out the favors. I guess that’s the easiest kind of change to accomplish.

As a person who makes a living doing events such as these, though with a decidedly smaller audience (the media doesn’t usually dedicate 4 days of broadcast time to my events), the Republican Convention lacked cohesion with the message of the candidate whose message is less about us and more about him (Maverick, POW, etc.). This event was homage to the past, thrown for a guy that has occasionally stuck his finger in the eye of the establishment dead set on maintaining that past. Seriously, the Kool-Aid must have been strong in St. Paul.

McCain will get a slight popularity bump from the coverage, but in the end people need to ask themselves if they learned anything more about his campaign than they new before…that he’s a Maverick, a former POW, and dislikes the status quo so much that he hopes to be the one to help maintain it.

Now I need a shower, because even talking about this has made me feel dirty.

Aug 29 2008

Playing for the PUMA's – Updated

Posted by Steve Ross in John McCain

Update: Older Updates are below. I just found this article from a native Alaskan about Palin. Go check it out.

Since I slept in late, I haven’t had a chance to write about Obama’s amazing speech last night. Just moments ago, I was awakened by the screeching of Pat Buchanan about John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sara Palin.

This is an interesting move on several fronts. First, Palin is from a small state, whose Republican Party is in disarray, between the investigations of Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young. Second, Palin is under investigation herself, as noted in this post from Talking Points Memo. Third, and what will be the most talked about by the MSM, is the bald faced play for PUMA’s, angry that Hillary was not selected, and ready to vote for McCain because of it. If he solidifies the PUMA base, he’s on tap to win states he already held by a margin that’s 20-30 votes greater.

This is a poke in the eye to some Clinton supporters, fresh off their new found unity. I don’t have much more to say about this right now, but if I were going to try and steal Obama’s thunder, I think this pick would do it.


Update 12:25PM: Sara Palin on CNBC questioning what the VP actually does (2:00 in) (h/t JohnnyNYC

Palin: “[A]s for that V.P. talk all the time, I’ll tell you, I still can’t answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the V.P. does every day? I’m used to being very productive and working real hard in an administration. We want to make sure that that V.P .slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things that we’re trying to accomplish up here for the rest of the U.S., before I can even start addressing that question.”

Governor Palin, I suggest you figure out what the Office of Vice President does, and quick. This sounds like an ad to me! I can’t believe that the McCain campaign didn’t see this as a negative.

First read has three articles about Palin up at this time: Pro’s and Con’s, Reaction, and Praises Obama’s Energy Plan.

Once the draft or a video of her speech is up, I will post it here.

Text of Speech

Video. Palin starts talking around 10:50.

Aug 05 2008

The GOP Whine Fest

Posted by Steve Ross in John McCain

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reading article after article about the GOP whine fest that’s going on in the House chambers right now. Essentially, this is a last ditch attempt by a small group of GOP faithful to put forth the impression that by not voting to allow additional drilling the Democratic leadership is somehow derelict. This small group of Representatives has decided that they will not leave until something is done to make their Big oil donors happy.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the hallmark of the “more of the same” offered by the GOP. We can’t drill our way out of high energy prices. It’s telling that even the White House has poo pooed the idea of a special session of Congress on energy. This is a hissy fit and that’s all. Maybe this is the GOP’s attempt at “differentiating” itself from the Bush White House. Good luck with that one!

The House GOP could be taking a tip (on the hissy fit front) from their presumptive nominee. McCain has been throwing one hissy after another about Obama’s “celebrity”, often going right to the edge of coherence. Hell, he’s acting like some of the girls on Rock of Love pouty lip out and all! Now that’s Presidential!

Will Americans fall for it? Why wouldn’t we? Since 1980 Americans have been just a wrapper and a stick away from a sucker. We want our GOP candy coated non-solution so we can go about doing things the same way we’ve been doing them all the while bitching about the way everything’s all screwed up. We won’t buy compact fluorescent bulbs because they cost too much. Turning the air up a couple of degrees makes our fat rolls stick together. Recycling means we may have to think for more than .5 seconds about what we’re throwing away, and then there’s that extra trip to the curb! Fuel efficient cars don’t pack enough punch, or have enough room for our single person, 15 mile commute from our gated community in ‘burbs. I could go on and on…

What happened to our “Can do” attitude? What happened to American ingenuity? What happened to confronting a problem head on and beating it to death with persistence and elbow grease? That’s the America that I know, not this whiny, entitled, America that John McCain and his GOP lackeys are touting.

This is our moment…our chance to take America back from the soft-serve sycophants that have been doggedly destroying American know how, for PAC donations and cushy lobbying jobs. This is an opportunity to take back a portion of a government that is supposed to be of, for, and by the people, not corporations. This is our time, to take back what is ours, enforce accountability, and once again lead the world with honor, dignity, and ingenuity instead of whining about what we’ve given up. Opportunities like this don’t come around every day, or even every four years. Don’t fall for the easy trap of reality show rhetoric that has taken over the McCain camp and the GOP at large. This campaign is too important to turn it into a High School popularity contest. We shouldn’t allow the media, or McCain, to degrade the process, and by extension, our nation, by turning it into the reality show flavor of the month.