The singer-songwriter sued McCain and the Ohio and national Republican committees in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, accusing them of using his song “Running on Empty” without his permission.The lawsuit claims the song’s use was an infringement of his copyright and will lead people to conclude he endorses McCain. The suit says Browne is a lifelong liberal who is as well-known for his music as for being “an advocate for social and environmental justice.”
The advertisement mocks Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s contention that if U.S. drivers got regular tuneups and drove on properly inflated tires, they could save the same amount of oil that would be gained by offshore drilling. According to the suit, “Running on Empty” plays in the background of the ad criticizing the remarks.
Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio party, said the ad was pulled when Browne objected. He called the lawsuit a “big to-do about nothing.”
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers disavowed the ad, saying it wasn’t a product of the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign.
Browne’s lawsuit contends the Ohio Republican party released the ad on behalf of McCain and the RNC. The RNC did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The suit notes that other musicians, including ABBA and John Cougar Mellencamp, have asked McCain to stop using their work.
Browne’s attorney, Lawrence Iser, called the ad’s use of the song “reprehensible.”
The 59-year-old singer claims his reputation has already been damaged and is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.
Browne released “Running on Empty” — the song and an album by the same name — in 1977. According to the lawsuit, the album has sold more than 7 million copies.
Browne’s financial success has aided Democratic candidates over the years. Campaign finance records show he contributed $2,300 to Obama’s presidential campaign last year and $2,000 to the Illinois senator’s campaign coffers in 2004.