Things aren’t looking up for conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh. With so many of his advertisers refusing to continue advertising on his radio show, the band Rush’s latest cease and desist letter to Mr. Limbaugh can’t be helping matters. The band Rush and Mr. Rush Limbaugh are not in any way associated with one another and that is how the band Rush wants to keep things.
It seems Mr. Limbaugh has been using the band Rush’s recorded music during his radio show, and the band has served Mr. Limbaugh with a cease and desist letter demanding that Mr. Limbaugh stop infringing on their copyright and trademark rights in the recorded music. In its recent cease and desist letter, the band Rush claims that the “public performance of Rush’s music is not licensed for political purposes.”
The band uses the phrase “political purposes” because although Mr. Limbaugh is a radio show host, he is often in the public eye for his strong political views and controversial or offensive statements. The band has made clear that it does not want the listening audience to believe the band is endorsing Mr. Limbaugh and his very controversial views, choosing to disassociate itself from Mr. Limbaugh in any way.
However, radio programs don’t actually request permission from each and every artist in order to play the artist’s recorded music. Most radio stations get permission to play certain recorded music is through blanket licenses and paying flat fees to performance rights organizations (such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC). These blanket licenses are usually sufficient to allow radio stations to use an artists’ previously recorded music, and the band’s apparent claim that there is a “political use” exception to the public performance license obtained by radio programs is an unusual argument.
In either event, what is clear is that the band Rush is taking its copyright and trademark rights in its recorded music very seriously and has chosen to take a hardline against being associated in any way with Mr. Rush Limbaugh.