Neil Young Drops Copyright Infringement Case Against Donald Trump

Neil Young Trump
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Neil Young Trump
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Photo Credit: Per Ole Hagen / CC by 2.0

Neil Young has officially dropped his copyright infringement lawsuit against Donald Trump.

The 75-year-old artist (as well as his Silver Fiddle Music publishing company) recently put the months-running complaint to rest. In a brief notice submitted to a New York federal court, Neil Young and his legal team voluntary dismissed the case, which named Donald J. Trump for President as a defendant.

The “Heart of Gold” singer-songwriter filed the suit in August, following Trump’s June 20th campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Two Neil Young tracks — “Rockin’ In the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk” — played during the event. The infringement complaint emphasized Young’s opposition to the songs’ use and indicated that “the Campaign does not now have, and did not at the time of the Tulsa rally, have a license” to play the works.

Toronto-born Young, who became an American citizen shortly after this year’s start, was seeking $150,000 in statutory damages for each of the songs, as well as reimbursement for legal fees and an order prohibiting the campaign from publicly using the tracks moving forward.

It’s unclear what prompted the “Old Man” creator, who threatened to sue the Trump campaign for playing “Rockin’ In the Free World” as far back as 2015, to voluntarily dismiss the suit. At the time of publishing, neither Young nor his team had addressed the matter on social media or in the three-time Grammy winner’s Times Contrarian digital newspaper.

On the year, R.E.M. and The Rolling Stones have made headlines for pushing back against their music’s use at political rallies – joining a list of other artists who previously criticized the public plays – but have yet to file a lawsuit formally.

More broadly, 2020 has brought a multitude of high-profile copyright infringement lawsuits in the music industry. In February, Peloton settled its contentious courtroom confrontation against 14 music publishers, and that same month, indie rock band Yeasayer levied an infringement complaint against The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, for allegedly stealing their work to create “Pray for Me” for Black Panther. The case drew to a close in June.

And that’s just the beginning. Kendrick Lamar is also facing different infringement allegations for allegedly stealing material to craft “Loyalty”. And despite evidence that suggested an imminent dismissal, Ariana Grande is still battling a “7 Rings” infringement case. Lastly, four dismissals and half a decade later, the “Shake It Off” copyright infringement complaint against Taylor Swift continues to rage on, as does Cardi B’s years-long “tattoo lawsuit.”

7 Responses

  1. FactChecker

    He dropped it for two reasons:

    1. Trump lost fair and square. It’s over.
    2. Trump, after the avalanche of other lawsuits that come his way, will be worth nothing and housed in a federal prison for his treasonous, seditious crimes.

    Last laugh goes to Young.

    • Steve

      Agree with that. Sincerely hope there’s a prison cell waiting for Trump

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks so much, Mr. Young, the world thanks you! I heard one of your songs the other day and you say, “Keep on rockin’ in the free world” you should have added, “unless you disagree with me” You are the latest celebrity to attack free thought and opinion. It has infested colleges and “higher learning” (and I chuckle in saying that. But, you don’t want to hear other people’s thoughts. Your infringement case was bogus from the start. I know the law, but you wanted to look good in front of your friends at the next cocktail party. Neil Young, you have become what you wrote against in the 60s & 70s. You are a SELLOUT! But, thanks for dropping the suit.

    • M

      Tom Macdonald is more str8 forward if that’s what ur looking for (he’s a rapper)

    • csanderslaw

      Another valiant supporter of the current Administration named Anonymous. Ah, the courage of one’s convictions. Hahahahahahahaha. 🙂

    • Nano

      Way to not understand infringement in an attempt to justify your skewed views and bias.

  3. Stan Trebson

    Anonymous; your post is highly uneducated! Please stay anonymous, you’ve embarrassed yourself! I cannot believe your lethargic thinking pattern. Time for your education to begin; enroll in school and finish! I’m stumped at your thinking your post was brilliant. It wasn’t. Embarrassing for you.