Steven Tyler Sends Cease & Desist to Trump Over Use of 'Livin' on the Edge' at Campaign Rally

Mike Coppola/Getty Images for MTV
Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith attend the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Aug. 20, 2018 in New York City.  

"Such conduct is clearly willful, subjecting Mr. Trump to the maximum penalty under law."

Following a campaign rally in West Virginia on Tuesday night at which President Trump blasted Aerosmith's 1993 song "Livin' on the Edge" as attendees filed into the Charleston Civic Center, a lawyer for singer Steven Tyler has once again asked the president to stop using the rock band's music at his political events.

"It has come to our attention that President Donald J. Trump and/or The Trump Organization (collectively, “Mr. Trump”) have been using our client’s song 'Livin’ On The Edge' in connection with political rally events, including at an event held yesterday at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia on August 21, 2018," read the letter from attorney Dina LaPolt. "As expressly outlined in the Previous Letters, Mr. Trump does not have our client’s permission to use any of our client’s music, including 'Livin’ On The Edge.'" 

As referenced in the letter, this is not the first time the veteran rockers have asked Trump to stop using their music at his political events. During the 2015 presidential race, they fired off a similar cease & desist letter after Trump played 1973's "Dream On" during campaign rallies, noting that the real estate mogul needed Tyler's "express written permission" to use the song and that doing so without was a violation of Tyler's copyright.

"What makes this violation even more egregious is that Mr. Trump’s use of our client’s music was previously shut down, not once, but two times, during his campaign for presidency in 2015," the letter explains. "Please see the Previous Letters sent on behalf of our client attached here as Exhibit A. Due to your receipt of the Previous Letters, such conduct is clearly willful, subjecting Mr. Trump to the maximum penalty under the law. As we have made clear numerous times, Mr. Trump is creating the false impression that our client has given his consent for the use of his music, and even that he endorses the presidency of Mr. Trump. By using 'Livin’ On The Edge' without our client’s permission, Mr. Trump is falsely implying that our client, once again, endorses his campaign and/or his presidency, as evidenced by actual confusion seen from the reactions of our client’s fans all over social media. This specifically violates Section 43 of the Lanham Act, as it 'is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person.'"

At best, the song -- whose lyrics decry racism and environmental devastation -- is an ironic choice for a rally on the day after the Trump administration drew widespread condemnation for scrapping Obama-era climate change policies aimed at boosting output from coal-fired power plants that could pump more dangerous CO2 into the atmosphere and result in as many as 1,400 premature deaths a year. It also came after a ceremony on Monday (Aug. 20) at which Trump drew fire for what was deemed racist language when praising a Latino Border Patrol agent named Adrian Anzaldua by saying he "speaks perfect English."  

During the 2016 campaign, a list of musicians requested that Trump stop using their music during his rallies, including Adele, the Rolling Stones, Twisted Sister, Elton John, R.E.M. and Queen, among others. "Livin' on the Edge," the first single from Aerosmith's Get a Grip album, was written by Tyler, Joe Perry and Mark Hudson.

"Further, as we have also made clear, Mr. Trump needs our client’s express written permission in order to use his music," the letter continues. "We demanded Mr. Tyler’s public performance societies terminate their licenses with you in 2015 in connection with 'Dream On' and any other musical compositions written or co-written by Mr. Tyler. As such, we are unaware of any remaining public performance license still in existence which grants Mr. Trump the right use his music in connection with the Rallies or any other purpose. If Mr. Trump has any such license, please forward it to our attention immediately." A White House spokesperson could not be reached for comment at press time.

Read the full text of the letter below:

Dear Gentlepersons:

As you know, this office represents Steven Tyler, one of the founders of the iconic rock bandAerosmith, in connection with his intellectual property matters. Reference is made herein to the cease and desist letters sent by our office to you dated August 28, 2015 and October 10, 2015(the “Previous Letters”).

It has come to our attention that President Donald J. Trump and/or The Trump Organization (collectively, “Mr. Trump”) have been using our client’s song “Livin’ On The Edge” inconnection with political rally events (the “Rallies”), including at an event held yesterday at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia on August 21, 2018. As expressly outlined in the Previous Letters, Mr. Trump does not have our client’s permission to use any of ourclient’s music, including “Livin’ On The Edge”.

What makes this violation even more egregious is that Mr. Trump’s use of our client’s musicwas previously shut down, not once, but two times, during his campaign for presidency in 2015. Please see the Previous Letters sent on behalf of our client attached here as Exhibit A. Due to your receipt of the Previous Letters, such conduct is clearly willful, subjecting Mr. Trump to the maximum penalty under the law.

As we have made clear numerous times, Mr. Trump is creating the false impression that our client has given his consent for the use of his music, and even that he endorses the presidency of Mr. Trump. By using “Livin’ On The Edge” without our client’s permission, Mr. Trump isfalsely implying that our client, once again, endorses his campaign and/or his presidency, asevidenced by actual confusion seen from the reactions of our client’s fans all over social media. This specifically violates Section 43 of the Lanham Act, as it “is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person.”

Further, as we have also made clear, Mr. Trump needs our client’s express written permission in order to use his music. We demanded Mr. Tyler’s public performance societies terminate theirlicenses with you in 2015 in connection with “Dream On” and any other musical compositions written or co-written by Mr. Tyler. As such, we are unaware of any remaining public performance license still in existence which grants Mr. Trump the right use his music in connection with the Rallies or any other purpose. If Mr. Trump has any such license, please forward it to our attention immediately.

In addition, Mr. Tyler’s voice is easily recognizable and central to his identity, and any usethereof wrongfully misappropriates his rights of publicity. Mr. Trump does not have any right to use the name, image, voice or likeness of our client, without his express written permission, in connection with his potential campaign or otherwise under state and federal laws, including, but not limited to California Civil Code § 3344 and Section 43(a)(1)(A) of the Lanham Act. Any such actions constitute interference with economic relations, trademark infringement, and aviolation of our client’s right of privacy, among other causes of action.

Accordingly, please confirm Mr. Trump’s compliance with this letter in writing within twenty- four (24) hours of your receipt of this letter.

Please be advised that nothing contained herein or omitted herefrom shall be deemed to be an admission by our clients of any fact as to any matter or a waiver or full explication of any of ourclients’ rights, remedies, contentions, damages or defenses with respect to the subject matter hereof, in law, in equity or otherwise, all of which are hereby expressly reserved.