A Pattern of Republicans Stealing Music from Bands Who Don't Like Them

Two weeks ago we reported how dishonest Republican Senator John McCain was caught stealing 2 songs from John Mellencamp for use in his campaign to personify a third Bush term. It isn't uncommon for Republican political hacks to steal popular music from Democratic songwriters and singers. They never pay for the usage-- which is ironic since it is the Congress that sets the rates and conditions and McCain has voted on the legislation dozens of times and is certainly aware that it is a crime to just use people's music without paying royalties. Bush was caught over and over again using popular songs from Democrats in his campaigns and he was repeatedly asked to cease and desist. Even back in 1984 Reagan was caught using Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," an anti-Vietnam War anthem for his campaign, although he eventually stopped when Springsteen said he would sue him if he kept using it.

The latest GOP thief is Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee, who's been stealing music from the popular rock band Boston. Barry Goudreau, who was in the band early on, before being fired in 1980, is a Huckabee supporter; he didn't write "More Than A Feeling" or any other Boston songs. The songwriter is band leader Tom Scholz, and, like John Mellencamp, he isn't amused to find his music (the classic "More Than A Feeling") being used to push the Republicans' reactionary and bigoted agenda. He wrote to Huckabee and demanded he stop. Huckabee refuses.

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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