The Ironies Of Linkin Park And Donald Trump In A Song
The most adversarial president in history discovers that there are limits to his power.
This morning, I saw a headline (inspiration!) that said that Linkin Park complained to Twitter that the Trump campaign had used a song in a campaign video without authorization from the songwriters. According to Variety Magazine, the Trump campaign had used music from Linkin Park’s song, “In The End” in a campaign video that had been posted on Twitter. Twitter removed the post from Trump’s Twitter account upon receipt of the complaint.
Where have I seen this before? Oh yeah. It was Neil Young lodging multiple complaints on Twitter against the Trump campaign for use of his songs. Trump has a habit of playing, “Rockin’ In The Free World” at his rallies as he walks onto the stage. Neil Young is not OK with this and they have filed complaints to restrain the Trump campaign from playing his music, anywhere, anytime, in support of Trump’s campaign. There is a supreme irony in the scene of Trump walking on stage to music performed by one of America’s favorite hippies.
Does Trump not understand the difference between public domain and copyright? You can bet that if someone used any copyrighted works of Donald Trump in anything that generates revenue, revenue, revenue! they’d be getting a cease and desist letter about it. It would have been nice if the Trump campaign had taken the time to get permission before playing the music at the rallies or dubbing it onto a campaign video.
In my research for this article, I found numerous complaints against the Trump campaign for copyright violations. Although most of the stories I found had followed a straightforward formula, here’s where he did the deed, here’s who complained, and look, they took it down, there was one story that took an entirely different tack. The Washington Times, that great patriotic bastion of scoundrels, ran the following headline, “Trump critics using copyright laws to target tweets”. Gasp! Trump critics are using copyright laws to censor, censor, censor! Trump. The lead paragraph in the Washington Times article sets the tone:
Where boycotts and allegations of inciting violence or hatred have failed to get Big Tech to silence President Trump, copyright complaints have proven to be a much more successful weapon.
Yes, there is a giant conspiracy by social media companies to silence the conservative lambs of politics like President Trump. I follow President Trump on Twitter. I subscribe to his SMS texts from his campaign. I’m a liberal and I just want to know what they’re doing. I don’t see any evidence of suppression.
Oh, wait. Someone found hard evidence of “shadowbanning” tools that can prevent users on Twitter from trending or reaching a larger audience with their weeks. Telecoms.com has that story here.
Mike Masnick at TechDirt has been following the efforts of the GOP to modify or severely limit the protections provided in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act under section 230, including Trump’s erroneous executive order on the subject. Apparently, there are some powerful people who want to paint social media companies as “publishers” to force them to stop moderating the content on their platforms.
Really? You want to classify social media companies as publishers so that you can force them to propagate conservative content on their platforms? That sounds an awful lot like big government sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
Conservatives claim First Amendment rights are violated when they are treated this way. Conservatives also forget that the First Amendment doesn’t apply in private venues like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even Parler. They are private companies running a private business. I know that’s difficult to comprehend for some conservative, but it is what it is. I bet we’d hear nary a peep from them if the tables were turned. Well, we might hear a snicker.
Trump is sitting on a huge pile of intellectual property in the form of books, video, and audio. He has teams of people working for him to make it all just click. Usually, someone on those teams is responsible for a little thing called, “clearance”. Clearance is what you do when you want to use something like video, audio or text, for commercial activity. Political campaigns raise money, that’s what makes them a commercial enterprise, and that’s why they require clearance.
And if the author of the material you want to use for your campaign says “no”, a word that even Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh understands, don’t use that material in your campaign. Go somewhere else. Go where the love is. You know, places like Kentucky, Georgia, or Texas. Surely, somebody in one of those states there has written a song that you can use for your video.
But there is an even greater irony in this picture. Sonny Bono, of Sonny and Cher, was a Republican in Congress who promoted a bill to extend copyright protection to 95 years after publication. His bill didn’t become law, but another bill very similar to it The Sonny Bono Act of 1998, did become law and was named after him. Republicans have had a long history of making intellectual property laws longer and stronger. This is a part of their plan to distribute income upward. The irony here is that Trump has pushed for greater intellectual property law enforcement in China during his failed trade war, and he still got dinged by Linkin Park.
I’m not a Linkin Park fan. They seem similar to 311 and like them better. I watched the official video for their song, “In The End” and I read the lyrics. I’m still not a fan of Linkin Park. But as I read the lyrics, I took note of the message conveyed in the song:
I tried so hard and got so far
But in the end, it doesn’t even matter
I had to fall to lose it all
But in the end, it doesn’t even matter
“I tried so hard”? The message conveyed by the campaign is that I tried but did not succeed. That’s not the message of a winner. I’ve been watching Trump for the past three and a half years and if there was any success it was with seating conservatively biased judges on the benches in the federal judiciary. They have already claimed success in that realm.
“But in the end, it doesn’t even matter”. It doesn’t? So being president doesn’t matter. All that flagellation, all that activism, all that crowing about successes doesn't matter.
I’m not sure this is the message that Trump would like to convey, despite the antipathy that Linkin Park might have for him. The song is loaded with platitudes and cliches. The lyrics in that song read more like the Joe Biden campaign than the Trump campaign. By filing a copyright complaint, Linkin Park might just have inadvertently assisted the Trump campaign with its messaging problem. That to me, is the biggest irony in this story.