TV ad exposes campaign's penchant for piracy

John McCain preaches a hard line on respecting the law — including intellectual property laws, which he has voted for in the Senate. But in his attempts to equate celebrity with brainlessness as a means of attacking his Democratic opponent, McCain seems to have no problem resorting to piracy.

Latest to hurl this accusation at him is singer-songwriter Jackson Browne, who is suing the McCain campaign for unauthorized use of his 1970s hit “Running on Empty” in a TV ad in battleground state Ohio. The ad mocks “the biggest celebrity in the world” (i.e., Barack Obama) for his ideas on fuel conservation.

Browne is suing for copyright infringement and for “falsely suggesting that Mr. Browne… endorses Sen. McCain’s candidacy,” according to the suit. Brown supports Obama.

The ad is no longer airing, but the McCain campaign told wired.com it had nothing to do with making the ad.

Maybe so, but the same can’t be said of the campaign’s unauthorized use of a clip of comedians Mike Myers and Dana Carvey doing their “We’re not worthy” routine from “Wayne’s World.”

The McCain campaign dropped that clip following receipt of a takedown notice.

Warner Bros., singer-songwriter John Mellencamp and composer Christopher Lennertz issued cease-and-desist notices to the McCain campaign for alleged unauthorized use of music previously. (The campaign ceased and desisted each time.)

As one wry blog-reader noted in a posted comment, maybe the candidate should say at the end of his TV ads:

“I’m John McCain and I approved this message and copyright infringement.”

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