Jackson Browne wins a round in John McCain case

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Jackson Browne wins a round in John McCain case

Mon Feb 23, 2009 @ 05:53PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Mccain,john We've been paying an inordinate amount of attention to a lawsuit brought by singer Jackson Browne against John McCain after the Republican presidential candidate used Browne's "Running on Empty" in a campaign commercial. That's because the case seems like it might influence how future political campaigns use copyrighted music.

Especially now that a California district court has denied McCain's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Previously, McCain's lawyers went hard after Browne, alleging that the singer's lawsuit was a misuse of the judicial system in an attempt to trample First Amendment protected speech. On Friday, the District Court allowed the case to go forward and denied McCain's anti-SLAPP motion.


The judge had to weigh the probability of Browne prevailing on his claim against McCain. He rules that he'll "adopt the more lenient meaning of the term 'probability' such that Plaintiff needs to show a mere possibility of success on his claim" and that the defendant "has not shown that political expression's broad First Amendment protection bars, as a matter of law, all actions based on allegedly improper use of a person's identity in campaign-related materials."

The McCain campaign released a statement that seems to hold onto its legal theories. "We intend to seek immediate review of the Court's orders in the Ninth Circuit," said outside counsel Lincoln Bandlow.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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