Linkin Park succeeds in getting fan-made Trump campaign ad pulled from Twitter

Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Donald Trump (Photos: Getty Images)
Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Donald Trump (Photos: Getty Images)

Linkin Park fans were furious Saturday, when President Trump retweeted a fan-made re-election campaign ad that used the alternative rock band’s music — noting that late Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington was vehemently anti-Trump and had believed that the president was “a greater threat to the USA than terrorism.”

The controversial two-minute video in question — which had been tweeted a day earlier by White House social media director Dan Scavino — mashed up a cover by Fleurie and Jung Youth of Linkin Park’s 2002 hit “In the End” with audio from Trump's 2017 inaugural address, and depicted presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as a member of the “Washington elite.”

The surviving Linkin Park band members shared their fans’ outrage, tweeting, “Linkin Park did not and does not endorse Trump, nor authorize his organization to use any of our music. A cease and desist has been issued.” Jung Youth also commented on Trump’s tweet, writing, “F*** Trump!!!! Def do not approve this usage of my music just FYI.”

Within hours of Linkin Park’s public denouncement — while the band’s name was still trending on Twitter — the offending video was pulled, after Twitter received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice from Machine Shop Entertainment (the management company owned by Linkin Park). The new error notification read: "This media has been disabled in response to a report by the copyright owner.” In an email statement to Reuters, a Twitter spokesperson said, “We respond to valid copyright complaints sent to us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

Linkin Park is among many artists that have complained about Trump playing their music: Just recently, both Neil Young and the Rolling Stones protested the president’s respective use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at his rallies. But at political rallies taking place at large, established venues that have "public performance" licenses with organizations like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, such music usage is usually legal without the artists’ consent.

Related video: Rolling Stones threaten lawsuit over Trump's music use

However, playing music in a campaign ad — be it an official spot, or a fan-created one like the “In the End” video tweeted by President Trump this weekend — require approval, as would be the case for any sort of commercial. The licenses needed for unauthorized political ads "are essentially the same [as official ads], even if the responsibility doesn't lie with the campaign," Kevin Erickson, director of the Future of Music Coalition, explained to Pitchfork in 2016.

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