President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is using copyrighted music in its latest Facebook ads—music that it didn’t pay for, according to the artist’s record label, which told Gizmodo the Trump campaign never obtained permission to use the song.
Over this past weekend, the Trump campaign started running Facebook ads to attack Democratic presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker who said that people enabling Trump would “go down in history as despicable actors.” Booker appeared on TV last week and made the obvious case that history will not be kind to people who are helping President Trump fight off impeachment.
The Trump campaign’s Facebook ad, which was paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, according to Facebook’s labeling and the ad’s on-screen disclosure, includes a song from Rogiérs titled “Life & Music (feat. Big Tone),” first released in 2008 and available on YouTube. But a representative of Rogiérs from his record label Fibby Music Group told Gizmodo via email that the song’s “usage is unauthorized.” The ad can be viewed here.
As you can hear in the second half of the ad, the music is good, which is an immediate giveaway that something was amiss. Trump’s political ads typically use stock music that sounds like shit.
A Facebook spokesperson assured Gizmodo in a statement that it employs tools to ensure users and advertisers adhere to copyright. “We have put in place a variety of measures to help rights holders protect their intellectual property rights on Facebook and they can report misuse in our tool here,” the spokesperson said in an email.
The ad remained active on Facebook as of Tuesday afternoon.
Rogiérs did not comment about his personal feelings on Trump, but his Twitter feed is filled with retweets about President Trump’s racism, the Trump regime’s crimes against children, and the many criminals in Trump’s orbit. Needless to say, it’s very weird that the Trump regime would choose music from someone who calls out the president’s obviously illegal acts.
The internet is awash in unauthorized uses of copyrighted material, whether it’s photos, movies, or music. But there’s a big difference between individual internet users stretching the definition of Fair Use under copyright law, and a political campaign using a song without permission for TV or Facebook ads.
Brad Parscale, the campaign manager for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, did not return Gizmodo’s request for comment.
This isn’t the first time that the Trump campaign has gotten into trouble over unlicensed music. In April of 2019, Trump’s official Twitter account tweeted a video that used music from the 2012 Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. That video was removed based on a copyright complaint, but it appears to have been originally made by a Trump fan rather than the Trump campaign. This most recent ad featuring Cory Booker appears to have been made by the Trump campaign and features the president at a rally shouting, “I’m president and they’re not,” before the beat really kicks in.
Trump escalated his rhetoric over the weekend, tweeting about the possibility of a “civil war” if he’s removed from office. It was just one of many unhinged tweets over the past few days as the Democrats promised to finally open an impeachment inquiry into the president’s various crimes against the United States.
Trump also tweeted yesterday about how Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff should be arrested for treason. Trump, employing a strategy of plausible deniability that’s a hallmark of his presidency, included a question mark after the call for Schiff to be arrested.
Obviously, calling for your political opponents to be arrested is highly unusual in functional democracies. And it’s equally concerning when the president suggests that whistleblowers are actually spies and should be executed, as he did recently in a closed-door meeting in New York.
All of that bizarre and extremist language is in line with the new Trump Facebook ad, versions of which accuse the Democrats of lying, and even invokes George Soros.
There’s no read roadmap for how things go from here, but needless to say, impeachment is a good start. And barring that, maybe a DMCA takedown or civil lawsuit for using music without permission in paid political ads. We’ll take what we can get at this point.