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John McCain Fires Back At Jackson Browne With Legal Documents

November 20, 2008 11:00 AM ET

With his election loss behind him, John McCain has found a new opponent in Jackson Browne. After Browne sued the Republican candidate back in August for using "Running on Empty" without permission in a campaign ad, McCain has fired back in court with a pair of 20-page motions. First, McCain seeks to dismiss the charges, citing "fair use" of a song with "an acknowledged cliché" for a title. McCain's lawyers also say that their use of the song likely increased the popularity of the 30-year-old song than damaged its commercial potential. In a second motion that adds insult to Browne's injury, McCain's lawyers are seeking monetary damages, accusing Browne of attempting to "chill" McCain's free speech. Team McCain is seeking attorney fees and similar costs. While the trial may seem like an afterthought to the election, it could determine the future of music use in political campaigns and whether or not Sarah Palin will be allowed to use "Barracuda" in 2012.

Related Stories:
"Stop Using My Song, Republicans!": A Guide to Disgruntled Rockers
Jackson Browne Sues John McCain Over Campaign Commercial
How Political Campaigns Make Their Music Choices

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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