July 21, 2009 / 7:15 PM / 10 years ago

Jackson Browne wins Republican apology over song

Musician Jackson Browne performs before a town meeting for former Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator John Edwards in Iowa City, Iowa, in this November 19, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/Files

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Senator John McCain and his Republican Party publicly apologized to singer Jackson Browne on Tuesday for using his song “Running on Empty” without permission in a campaign advertisement last year.

The apology came as Browne and McCain’s Republican camp agreed on a settlement to the lawsuit that the singer filed in August, soon after the advertisement aired.

Browne’s 1977 song was used by the Ohio Republican Party in an attack on Barack Obama that was critical of the Democrat’s stance on gas conservation. Obama defeated McCain in last November’s presidential election.

“We apologize that a portion of the Jackson Browne song ‘Running on Empty’ was used without permission,” McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party said in a statement.

The Republican camp also pledged in future elections to obtain permissions and licenses from artists “where appropriate” when using their copyrighted works.

Browne, a liberal activist, told Billboard he would “absolutely” sue political candidates and groups he supports if they used his music without authorization.

“I really hope that people begin to understand what goes into making music,” Browne told the music publication’s website. “It’s not just that one gets paid; it’s that one’s entire enterprise is fed, whether it’s recording studios or the amount of money you can pay our band. ... It is a huge industry.”

Browne had sued McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party, accusing them of copyright infringement.

It is not the first time a popular singer has gone after the Republicans for use of a song. In the mid-1980s, Bruce Springsteen complained about then-President Ronald Reagan’s contextually inaccurate use of his song “Born In the U.S.A.” during his re-election campaign.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Peter Cooney

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