During his announcement that he is going to run for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump used Neil Young’s Rockin’ In The Free World. It is a safe bet that Trump both had no idea what the song means and didn’t get Young’s permission to use his music.
During a scripted moment during his speech, Trump announced that he was running for president, pointed skyward, and Rockin’ In The Free World began playing.
The lyrics of the song Rockin’ In The Free World are a stinging criticism of the policies of then-President George H.W. Bush. The same kinds of policies that Donald Trump stands for today. The use of Young’s music was no accident, and it is extremely unlikely that the Canadian singer gave permission to Trump to use one of his most familiar hits.
A 2012 New York Times article pointed out that it is common for candidates to ignore copyright laws:
Until the recent cases, the only risk to the candidate was a spot of bad publicity.
“Because nobody sued, the candidates always thought they could get away with it, and they still think that today,” said Lawrence Iser, a copyright lawyer in Los Angeles who represented Mr. Browne and Mr. Byrne. “What did you get? You got some publicity. You got a takedown letter. Typically the campaigns would stop using the piece.”
Here’s hoping that Neil Young’s representatives have already drafted a letter to Donald Trump telling him not use the artist’s music without permission again. The fact that Trump would use a song that is so critical of Republicans in his campaign launch is proof of the absolute level of cluelessness of reality television personality.
Neil Young’s work should not be diminished by being attached to Donald Trump’s racist circus.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association