Donald Trump and RNC Under Pressure From Queen to Stop Using Its 'Champions' Anthem

The band Queen said Trump's use of "We Are the Champions" was "unauthorised."

ByABC News
July 19, 2016, 3:33 PM

— -- Donald Trump made a grand entrance at last night's Republican National Convention, walking out to Queen's classic 1977 song "We Are the Champions."

But now the convention and the Republican candidate are under pressure. The classic rock band tweeted today that the song's use at the convention was "unauthorised" and "against our wishes."

Adam Lambert, who is the current lead singer for Queen, tweeted a photo of original Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, writing, "If your politics party spends decades treating gay people as second-class citizens, guess what: You don't get to use Freddie Mercury's music at your convention."

But in a statement, Sony/ATV Music Publishing said it was "frustrated" by the "repeated unauthorized use" of the song by the Trump campaign.

“Sony/ATV Music Publishing has never been asked by Mr. Trump, the Trump campaign or the Trump Organization for permission to use 'We are the Champions' by Queen. On behalf of the band, we are frustrated by the repeated unauthorized use of the song after a previous request to desist, which has obviously been ignored by Mr. Trump and his campaign," the company said. "Queen does not want its music associated with any mainstream or political debate in any country. Nor does Queen want 'We are the Champions' to be used as an endorsement of Mr. Trump and the political views of the Republican Party. We trust, hope and expect that Mr. Trump and his campaign will respect these wishes moving forward.”

This isn't the first time Trump has been reprimanded by the band for using its song. The popular anthem played as Trump walked out to his victory party at the Trump National Golf Club in New York after sweeping the last of the Republican primaries on June 7.

Guitarist Brian May denounced Trump's use of the song on his website, saying it was without permission that Trump used the song.

"Regardless of our views on Mr. Trump's platform, it has always been against our policy to allow Queen music to be used as a political campaigning tool," May wrote.

Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer responded on Twitter that the convention paid to license the song, which another RNC official also confirmed.

"We Are the Champions" is licensed by Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) If the RNC has a blanket license with BMI, paying an annual fee to use all the songs in its catalog, the RNC can most likely legally play the song even if the band objects.

Even with a blanket BMI license, it’s still “recommended” to ask the artist or copyright holder for permission. But legal experts tell ABC News it’s common to use songs without that permission.

The band could potentially sue for “false endorsement” (leading the public to believe the artist endorses you) or “grand rights” (dramatizing or illustrating a song without permission) but these lawsuits are very hard to win, experts say.

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