Pharrell Williams Sends Cease-and-Desist Letter to Donald Trump

The musician is not pleased with his song 'Happy' being played at a political rally for the president over the weekend

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Musician Pharrell Williams (pictured above left) is not too happy that one of his songs was played at President Donald Trump’s rally in Indiana over the weekend.

Williams’ popular song “Happy” was played for the crowd, and as a result, the singer’s lawyer, Howard E. King, sent the president a cease-and-desist letter declaring that Trump cannot use Williams’ music at any future rallies.

“On the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings at the hands of a deranged ‘nationalist,’ you played his song ‘Happy’ to a crowd at a political event in Indiana,” King’s letter read. “There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose.”

“Pharrell has not, and will not, grant you permission to publicly perform or otherwise broadcast or disseminate any of his music,” he added. “The use of ‘Happy’ without permission constitutes copyright infringement.”

At his rally, Trump did condemn the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, but one has to wonder if this has more to do with Williams’ political leanings.

The singer campaigned for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election alongside Bernie Sanders, urging women to vote for her even if she was not a truthful candidate.

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“It makes me angry when people say she can’t lead our country because she’s a woman,” Williams said of Clinton in November 2017. “How dare anyone question a woman’s ability? Every person on this planet was brought into this world by a woman. Has she been dishonest about things? Sure. Have you? She don’t lie no more than any other politician does.”

During the same speech, Williams also claimed that Trump spoke only in “bumper stickers.”

Williams is not the first artist to be angry with President Trump for using his music at a rally. Several artists, including Prince, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, the band Twisted Sister, and Elton John, have refused to let their music be played at the president’s political rallies.

The cease-and-desist letter from Tyler’s lawyer, sent back in August for Trump’s use of “Livin’ on the Edge” at a rally in West Virginia, cited the Lanham Act, which prohibits “any false designation or misleading description or representation of fact … likely to cause confusion … as to the affiliation, connection or association of such person with another person.”

In other words, the argument is that people might think these artists are endorsing Trump if their music is played at his rallies-— as if people going to a Trump rally even care about celebrity endorsements.

For more on Williams’ thoughts on Trump, check out the video below:

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.

Tom Joyce
meet the author

Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, ESPN, and other outlets.

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