Musician Pharrell Williams is threatening to take legal action against President Trump if he continues to use his hit song “Happy” at rallies. While such threats from musicians aren’t unusual, particularly for Trump, the circumstances for Williams’ letter are: the use of the popular song to energize supporters at a rally in Indiana a few hours after the horrific mass shooting at a synagogue by an anti-Semite.
In the letter, Williams’ attorney Howard King criticized the president for unauthorized use of the performer’s song and stressed the grim context of its use: the murder of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Saturday morning — the worst massacre of Jews in American history.
“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. 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,” wrote King.
“Pharrell Williams is the owner of the copyright of ‘Happy,’ with the exclusive right to exploit same,” he continued. “Pharrell has not, and will not, grant you permission to publicly perform or otherwise broadcast or disseminate any of his music. The use of ‘Happy’ without permission constitutes copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501. This also violates Pharrell’s trademark rights under the Lanham Act.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner posted a copy of the letter:
WOWZA. Check out this cease and desist sent by Pharrell Williams to Donald Trump for using “Happy” on “the day of the mass murder of 11 human beings,” as the letter puts it. pic.twitter.com/Mst83Vp0kO
— Eriq Gardner (@eriqgardner) October 29, 2018
THR’s Ashley Cullen notes that this isn’t the first time that Trump has received a cease and desist letter from a musician. “Steven Tyler has repeatedly protested Trump’s use of Aerosmith’s music at his events, and others who have made similar complaints include Prince’s estate, R.E.M., Queen and the filmmakers of Air Force One,” Cullen reports.
The suspect of the Tree of Life massacre has admitted to carrying out the attack, telling police that he believes Jews are attempting to commit genocide against “his people.” Along with his hatred for Jews and Hispanic immigrants, the suspect has expressed antipathy for Trump. The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reports:
Authorities are still struggling to understand how the shooter selected the Tree of Life Synagogue, and how law enforcement missed signs the shooter may have been intending an attack. FBI officials processing the crime scene and conducting an initial investigation told reporters late Saturday that the shooter was unknown to law enforcement, though he appeared to have issued anti-Semitic threats and posted in anti-Semitic online forums regularly.
The shooter was allegedly known to have been virulently anti-Semitic, posting on Gab — a social media network designed to be a “Twitter alternative” — that organizations like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which helps Jewish refugees relocating from overseas, often from Communist countries, “like to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”
He also expressed hatred for President Donald Trump, claiming the president was a puppet leader.
President Trump responded to the shooting late Saturday, calling it a ” wicked act of pure evil” and a “devastating situation.”