Crist Apology Proves Copyright Laws Apply To Everyone…Even Politicians!

Copyright laws are a serious matter and nobody understands that better than former Florida governor Charlie Crist.  Crist made the innocent mistake of using the Talking Heads song ‘Road To Nowhere’ in a YouTube video advertisement in his Senate campaign last year and is now paying the consequences.  After losing a lawsuit filed by David Byrne of the Talking Heads, Crist has made a public apology on YouTube, which is climbing the viral charts today.

According to Billboard, terms of the settlement have not been released.  However, Crist’s recorded apology was part of the settlement.  Byrne had sued Christ for using ‘Road To Nowhere’ in an attack ad against opponent Marco Rubio to the tune of $1 million.  Whether or not Crist had to pay the full $1 million is unknown at this time, although Crist said that he was pleased with the settlement’s terms.

Byrne said in his statement that he was surprised to find out that the instances of political campaigns using unauthorized songs is far from rare, but he is one of the first musicians to do something about it.  “It turns out that I am one of the few artists who has the bucks and (guts) to challenge such usage.  I’m feeling very manly after my trip to Tampa!  Other artists may actually have the anger but not want to take the time and risk the legal bills.  I am lucky that I can do that.  Anyway, my hope is that by standing up to this practice maybe it can be made to be a lot less common option, or better yet an option that is never taken in the future.”

It should be pointed out that, as Byrne said in his statement, Crist isn’t the only politician who has used copyrighted music without permission.  In fact, according to Billboard, Crist’s opponent Marco Rubio, who ended up winning the election, was also called out for using copyrighted music.  Rubio used ‘Take the Money and Run’ by the Steve Miller Band in an attack ad against Crist.  Rubio was lucky enough to not be sued, however.

In his YouTube apology, Charlie Crist says, “I pledge that, should there be any future election campaigns for me, I will respect and uphold the rights of artists and obtain permission or a license for the use of any copyrighted work.”  I hope that other politicians, and creators in general, will heed Crist’s pledge.  Copyright laws are broken far too frequently when it comes to adding music to advertisements, promotional videos, and just plain personal home videos.

Don’t want to run into the same problems as Crist and have to make a public YouTube apology of your own?  Check out our post on 10 Royalty Free Music Sites Every Online Video Creator Should Know.  And, as always, scroll down to let us know what you think about this story in the comments!

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.