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Eddy Grant vs. Donald Trump

Posted by Caribbean World Magazine on 25 January 2021 | 0 Comments

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25 January 2021

Unauthorized use of the Barbados-born musician’s 1983 hit Electric Avenue in his re-election campaign lands the former President of the United States in court. 

Negative politics has its home in America where denigrating the opposition in savage style has long been the accepted norm.The campaign trail for Presidency, during Trump’s ill-fated attempt at re-election, was particularly brutal with “The Donald” repeatedly slating Joe Biden for his advancing years and stooping to a whole new low. In the midst of this, Trump’s team created an online ad that further pushed this message home. It used a hit song by Barbadian singer-songwriter Eddy Grantas the backing track to a cartoon of Joe Biden driving an old-fashioned steam train while Trump was in a sleek, flash, modern new motor. 

Numerous songwriters and recording artists over the years have objected to Republican politicians using their music - but rarely does the litigation make it to a court ruling.But Eddy Grant has made it clear he won’t settle, and Donald Trump doesn’t like to settle too. And so backed by a New York federal judge, the Rasta-haired musician has been given the green light to have his day in court. 

In response to Grant’s suit, Trump argued that he had merely applied “fair use”under copyright law. 

“The purpose of the Animation is not to disseminate the Song or to supplant sales of the original Song,” stated a motion to dismiss. “Here, a reasonable observer would perceive that the Animation uses the Song for a comedic, political purpose — a different and transformed purpose from that of the original Song.” 

However, U.S. District Court Judge John Koeltl wasn’t swayed and described Trump’s use as “wholesale copying of music to accompany a political campaign ad.” 

In failing to throw out the lawsuit, Trump is likely to have a tough time convincing a courtroom that his use of “Electric Avenue” has been anything else but unauthorised. Trump is renowned worldwide for his love of Twitter, and it was this social media channel that alerted Grant to the former president’s use of his music.He filed the lawsuit after Trump tweeted an uploaded version of the animated video. The 54-second clip endorsed Trump's reelection and "sought to denigrate the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nominee, now-President Joseph R. Biden," court records state. 

The former president’s claim that Grant cannot sue him because of what Trump's attorneys called "Presidential absolute immunity" was dismissed out of hand. 

"Electric Avenue" was a global hit and spent five weeks at No. 2 on Billboard Magazine's Top 100 Chart, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It also reached Top in the U.K. charts, peaking at Number 5. Filmed in Barbados, the song's music video was championed during the early years of MTV.