f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

August 16, 2008

Browne v. McCain

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:41 am

Jackson Browne v. John McCain et al.

Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe

Running on – running on empty
Running on – running blind
Running on – running into the sun
But I’m running behind

.. lyrics from “Running on Empty” (1977) by Jackson Browne

Whether you read the Main Stream Media, law blawgs, or celebrity rags, you surely know by this morning that liberal-activist singer-songwriter Jackson Browne — who wants a world with “More light, more love, more truth, more innovation” — is suing Republican presidential candidate John McCain for using Browne’s song “Running on Empty” without permission in an ad mocking Barack Obama for suggesting proper tire inflation could do more to solve our gasoline crisis than drilling offshore. According to the WSJ Law Blog and the L.A. Times Top of the Ticket blog:

  • On Thursday, Browne filed a copyright infringement suit against both McCain and the Republican National Committee in U.S. District Court in L.A. seeking a permanent injunction as well as damages. The suit claims that use of “Running on Empty” violates the Lanham Act by falsely implying that Browne is associated with or endorses the McCain candidacy. The suit also claims the commercial violates Browne’s right of publicity under California law.
  • Browne’s lawyer Lawrence Y. Iser says the McCain campaign has a track record of using music without permission.

“They used a John Mellencamp song until he made them stop and he used an ABBA song and a Frankie Valli song — it’s ridiculous and it’s setting a terrible example,” Iser said. “It’s shocking that they don’t even attempt to get permission. There’s no copyright difference between using a song to sell cars or by people running for president. The music industry continues to suffer due to lack of respect for intellectual property rights, and a candidate for president has a duty to lead by example and ensuring their campaign does as well. The copyright protections are derived from the Constitution itself.”

It’s a lovely summer Saturday, so there’s no chance of getting any legal insights out of Prof. Yabut or the rest of the f/k/a Gang about this lawsuit. And, all the media and web stories point out the obvious ironies. As we mentioned in a post on Valentine’s Day 2004,

Browne’s 1977 anthem Running on Empty, appeared during my first year practicing law, and captured the out-of-control fatigue of the anxious neophyte in a high-powered, government job.

One does have to wonder why a candidate fighting a too-old-guy image, and running against an inspiring young man giving us “a reason to believe,” would choose this particular song.

  By the way: As we noted in one of our posts on efficient driving, the Federal Trade Commission consumer alert “Saving Money at the Gas Pump: A Bumper-to-Bumper Guide” (2006) says: “When it comes to stretching your gas budget, how you drive can be almost as important as how far you drive.“ And: “Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned can increase gas mileage up to three percent.”

Naturally, RonE also has a bit of resonance for an aging Baby Boomer (yes, that is redundant) who’s dealing daily with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So, the story was a great excuse for finding a YouTube presentation of “Running on Empty” from a live concert in 1979, and listening to it this morning.

We hope fellow Obama supporter Jackson Browne won’t mind our including the YouTube clip here for your entertainment and education:

Having used up our alloted time for posting and finding content today, you’re stuck with a few more poems by dagosan from the brand new edition of Simply Haiku:

first warm day
i reach for her
gloveless hand

a broken heart carved
on the frozen pond —
fish bucket empty

summer solstice:
no shade on either
side of the street

… by David Giacalone – Simply Haiku (vol. 6 no. 3, Fall 2008)

And, here’s a reduced version of a Giacalone photo-haiga that somehow seems to fit today:

naked scarecrow
birds of prey
circle above

– from Simply Haiku (vol. 6 no. 3, Fall 2008)

Photo: Arthur Giacalone
Poem: David Giacalone
Simply Haiku

By the way: Nice timing for this controversy and publicity: Next month, Jackson Browne will issue his first studio album in six years, titled Time the Conquerer.


p.s. Need more to chew over while hammock-swinging this weekend? Check out the Lawyer2Lawyer Interview of Gerry Spence, by J. Craig Williams and Bob Ambrogi (via LegalBlogWatch; and see our discussion of this lawyer legend and neophyte blawger) Even Prof. Yabut is going to listen to find out why Spence — like the f/k/a Gang — says “Lawyers disappoint me.” (Update/Disclaimer: See Scott Greenfield’s comment and my response below.)


  1. I listened to the Spence interview very intently. I wish I had spent my time listening to Jackson Browne instead. It would have been time better spent.

    Comment by shg — August 16, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  2. Yep, I’m with you, Scott. Listening to “Young Lawyers in Love” would have been more illuminating. Maybe I better put a warning or suggest it for insomniac-nappers. I listened to Gerry & Bob & Craig after I posted the pointer, while preparing and eating lunch. I can at least say that it didn’t give me agita — too much hot air and blandness (questions and replies) to create major acid indigestion. Looks like I’m still a proud podriah.

    Comment by David Giacalone — August 16, 2008 @ 12:09 pm

  3. Why do they choose such inappropriate songs to begin with? “Running on Empty” is OK but for a campaign slogan during a gas crisis, particularly for a candidate who, according to many polls, is indeed “running behind?”

    Comment by Anne — August 16, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

  4. Hi, Anne. That better be a rhetorical question, ’cause I have no explanation — other than, perhaps, that the purpose of a negative ad is to associate your opponent with the song.

    Comment by David Giacalone — August 16, 2008 @ 2:11 pm


    If you “borrow” a song and don’t want to be sued
    Avoid the performer who sings for his feud.
    Seek out some lyrics that fit like a glove
    But steer clear of the guy who wrote Lawyers in Love.

    Light verse, ripped from the headlines

    Comment by Kevin Pierce — August 18, 2008 @ 8:24 am

  6. Gee, I thought the Spence interview was fascinating.

    Comment by Bob Ambrogi — August 18, 2008 @ 11:29 am

  7. Bob, You’ve done a lot of fascinating stuff, but this one seemed too deferential to Spence’s status as Legend. I a lot of his points deserve cross examination — a curve ball or two, not big, fat, fluffy softballs.

    Comment by David Giacalone — August 18, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

  8. Oh, duh, I thought McCain was using the song for himself!

    I guess I’ve become accustomed to these wrong-song themes. Bill (?) used the naughty Billy Joel song in the 90s, and I think Reagan tried to embrace “Born in the USA” for all the wrong reasons. Like me, they didn’t read closely enough!

    Comment by Anne — August 20, 2008 @ 9:25 pm

  9. Anne, I haven’t seen the McCain video and can’t find it online to see its emphasis. So, I don’t know for sure that the ad tried to link Obama to “Running on Empty.” Surely, thoughtful advisors would never have let a song with that title be their own candidate’s theme. (You’re right, though, that Reagan’s folks did, but at least the title was okay and new inspiring lyrics could be easily penned for the campaign.)

    Comment by David Giacalone — August 20, 2008 @ 10:14 pm

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