Pharrell Williams sends Trump's cease and desist letter for the use of "Happy" after the shooting in the Pittsburgh synagogue

adminOctober 30, 2018

Pharrell Williams performs in Los Angeles on October 20. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images for the Children & # 39; s Hospital Los Angeles)

On Saturday, hours after an armed man broke into the synagogue of the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh and killed 11 in the deadliest attack on Jews in the history of the United States, President Trump was due to appear at a convention in Indiana. to address a group of peasant students.

While waiting for Trump to take the stage, the crowd danced with a playlist of cheerful music, which included "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper and "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.

Now Williams, a popular recording artist, threatens to take legal action for the use of his song.

On Monday, his lawyer Howard King issued a letter of cease and desist to Trump, saying that the use of "Happy" constituted a copyright infringement and a trademark infringement.

"The day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a 'nationalist' madman, he played his song 'Happy' to a crowd at a political event in Indiana," the letter said. . "There was nothing" happy "about the tragedy inflicted on our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for the use of this song for this purpose."

The letter indicated that the termination and withdrawal of Williams would apply to all his songs, not just "Happy."

"Pharrell has not granted, and will not grant, permission to publicly interpret or otherwise disseminate or disseminate his music," the letter said.

It is not clear who chose the music for Saturday's event in Indiana. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comments on Tuesday morning.

The Indiana event was technically a convention of the National Organization of the FFA, not one of Trump's "Make America Great Again" demonstrations. However, he often had the feeling of a political rally, beginning with an introduction by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Throughout his speech before the FFA convention, Trump praised several of the political decisions of his administration and took at random the verbal detours of some of his political rivals, as the Washington Post then reported:

After pleading for peace and harmony, Trump apparently could not resist returning to his favorite political insults. He criticized the trade agreements of previous presidents and boasted of his actions on ethanol. Trump attacked Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) And his claim to the Native American heritage, speculating that he might be "out" of consideration for president.

"It turned out that I had more Indian blood than her," Trump said. "What a sad event, and I do not have any, so you know.

While the crowd of students laughed, Trump shrugged: "We can not resist.

Although Trump briefly considered canceling a political rally in Illinois after the FFA convention, he finally decided to keep it.

"These are bad people, you can not let them dominate what we do," Trump said on Saturday, referring to the perpetrators of attacks such as the one in the Pittsburgh synagogue. "So, I'm leaving, it's not that I want to go, but I think that actually, in reverse, I have an obligation to go."

Williams is not the first recording artist to demand that his music not be used in a Trump event. The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Queen, Adele, Elton John and Aerosmith have asked Trump to stop playing his songs at political events.

They joined a long list of musicians who have protested the use of music by politicians, as The Travis M. Andrews of The Post reported in 2016:

John Cougar Mellencamp, Tom Petty and Sting opposed the then governor. George W. Bush (R-Tex.) Using his songs in his 2000 presidential campaign (Sting also objected to Al Gore using a song), Fivethirtyeight reported. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) Had a particularly bad run in 2008, receiving complaints from Mellencamp, Van Halen, Heart, Bon Jovi, the Foo Fighters and ABBA before he is eventually sued by Jackson Browne. During that same election, Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave) called Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) For using "Wait, I'll come". Four years later, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) found himself in the spotlight to use songs from Silversun Pickups, K & # 39; naan, Twisted Sister and Survivor.

That said, musicians who protest the use of their songs at campaign rallies often have limited legal resources, since usually the campaigns or venues obtain a public interpretation license from music rights organizations such as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Editors (ASCAP) or BMI.

However, there are still ways for musicians to demand a campaign to use their songs in an event, according to the ASCAP guidelines.

"As a general rule, a campaign should be aware that, in most cases, the more closely a song is linked to the & # 39; image & # 39; or to the message of the campaign, it is more likely that the recording artist or the composer of the song may object to the use of the song in the campaign, "affirms ASCAP.

The group recommends that the campaigns request permission from the artists, even if they have a public execution license, to avoid possible claims.

Representatives and a Williams attorney did not respond immediately to requests for comments on Tuesday morning.

Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.

Read more:

The lives lost in the shooting of the Pittsburgh synagogue.

"Hate is not what the United States represents": Stephen Colbert responds to the Pittsburgh massacre

Kanye West praised Trump in a snaky speech at SNL. It did not go on the air.

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