Rush And Rush Limbaugh

March 7, 2012 by staff 

Rush And Rush Limbaugh, Radio show host and political provocateur Rush Limbaugh is now facing an attack on a new front over his “sl*t” comment about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke. As if the increasing number of advertisers pulling out from his show isn’t enough trouble, Limbaugh also has been served with a cease-and-desist letter from Rush, the Canadian trio with 24 gold albums whose classic rock staples include “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio.” The band demands that Limbaugh stop using their recorded music during his radio show and are threatening the conservative commentator with a lawsuit for copyright and trademark infringement.

Radio programs generally don’t need explicit permission from songwriters to play their music. Instead, most radio stations pay flat fees to performance rights organizations such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC for blanket licenses.

But in the band’s cease-and-desist letter (below), it’s being claimed that the “public performance of Rush’s music is not licensed for political purposes.”

It’s a somewhat similar argument that many musicians have made when taking on politicians who have used songs at campaign rallies. For instance, Newt Gingrich is currently being sued for playing Survivor’s 1982 hit “Eye of the Tiger” at a campaign rally. Essentially, these musicians are attempting to argue that the scope of a public performance license has limits.

But Rush’s thinking in this latest Limbaugh dispute is raising skepticism, even among musician-friendly attorneys.

Lawrence Iser, a lawyer who represented Jackson Browne against John McCain and David Byrne against Charlie Crist, believes that Limbaugh’s radio stations likely have a blanket performance licenses with SESAC, which is affiliated with Rush’s music publisher, and that the license should cover use of the band’s songs.

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