Rush Limbaugh vs. Rage Against the Machine

It’s no surprise that Tom Morello, the Harvard-educated guitarist for the left-wing rap-metal band Rage Against the Machine, isn’t a fan of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. It is a little surprising, however, to learn that Limbaugh sometimes uses Morello’s music on his nationally-syndicated show. Let’s just say that this fact didn’t come as a pleasant surprise to Morello, as Rolling Stone reports:

Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine is the latest rock star to demand that Rush Limbaugh stop using his music on the air. "Rush Limbaugh played "Sleep Now in the Fire" as a bumper on his show today," Morello told Rolling Stone last night. "Our response: 'Hey Jackass, stop using our music on your racist, misogynist, right wing clown show."

No response yet from Limbaugh. But as Rolling Stone goes on to explain, the talk radio host is free to ignore Morello’s complaints:

Though artists can certainly make their feelings known about the use of their music on the radio, they have no real legal power in actually enforcing demands to cease and desist. Radio networks are covered under blanket agreements for "public performance" of the songs in major publishing catalogs, and so long as those networks pay their licensing fees, they are allowed to play whatever they like within the bounds of FCC regulations.

You can read the full story here.

Morello is no stranger to Reason's pages. Back in October 2000, Brian Doherty examined the “strange politics of millionaire rock stars,” including Morello and his Rage Against the Machine band mates, who Doherty memorably described as “work-for-hire employees of one of the great cogs in the global capitalist machine, the megaconglomerate Sony, which wholly owns and distributes Rage’s music and even is a co-owner of the group’s publishing.” Read all about that here.

Personally, I preferred it back when the singer from Rage Against the Machine was still hanging out with Hare Krishnas.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • me myself and i||

    I wondered how Rush could use that Pretenders lick for years.

  • ||

    LOL. You are killing me today. You need to get an act. Just go on stage. Tour.

  • fish||

    ...and we're off!

  • fish||

    Hi rectal!

  • fish||

  • Limbaugh's ball washer||

    It was ha-ha funny when the corporate owner of My City Was Gone demanded that Limbaugh stop using the song on his show and a reporter asked Chrissie Hynde about it, expecting to get Hynde to bitch about Limbaugh. It turned out that Hynde didn't even know that BMI was taking action against the Rush Limbaugh show and she was ambivalent about the show, but she said that her parents listened to it all the time.

    It has been funny over the years to watch all the creative ways that Rush's enemies have gone after him to try to take his show off the air and generally make his life miserable.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Everyone's a cliche.

  • peter||

    Of course not, it's Riviera.

  • Matrix||

    Rush should reply, "**** you! I won't do what you tell me!"

  • Suki||

    +1,000,000!

  • ||

    I think Rage might actually be worse than Limp Bizkit. They are just fucking horrible.

  • ||

    I don't think they're quite that bad. At least the lead vocalist doesn't sound like a muppet.

  • Trespassers W||

    That's understandable, since you're 84 years old.

  • ||

    You are so angry White Indian. It is so much better when you posting your funny stuff about the agricultural city state. That stuff never gets old. It is always funny.

  • ||

    LOL I love it when you dig deep and call everyone a Freeper. So much creativity. Are you going to call everyone a gay now? Or a fibertarian?

  • ||

    Someone sounds a little frustrated.

  • ||

    I am not frustrated you are. No you are.

    I love being able to participate in the comedy act.

  • ||

    Of course I do. I have said before, I think you are brilliant. Every single post of yours is hysterical. So it is very fun to get you to react to my posts and be even more funny. The more someone goads you, the funnier you are. It is like audience participation.

  • ||

    They suck. You have to at least be able to play. And I have never met a single person who was in to them that didn't get that way because of their politics. That doesn't say much about the music does it?

  • G-Love||

    I love me some Rage. Great guitar hooks and above average vocals. I have never bought anything they put out because I refuse to support their fucking retarded political beliefs, but I will turn up the volume when I come across one of their songs on Sirius... P.S. John, are you high?

  • ||

    To each his own. I don't hear a single guitar hook in their music. And the vocals make Rob Zombie sound like Freddie Mercury.

  • Pat Robertson||

    Smokin' the Lord's plant

  • ||

    Jesus for weed man. LOL.

  • ||

    I got into them in college after seeing them live. Didn't care about their politics at the time, nor anyone else's including my own. I must admit that I listen to them rarely now, and mainly stuff from their first album, which was their crowning achievement.

  • ||

    Such is the case with many bands.

  • ||

    Yep. The interesting thing is that I also saw Tool perform at the same show, and they have hardly produced anything I don't like. Something about Maynard, I guess.

  • ||

    Still not a fan. But I have a grudging respect for Tool. Much better than these losers.

  • jacob||

    I loved their music in my youth and I'm not a liberal now, nor then.

    Additionally, Rush Limbaugh apparently is in to their music, and I'm pretty sure it's not because of politics. That's a stupid premise.

  • Michael||

    I'll see your Rage Against the Machine and raise you one Anthrax/UTFO collaboration (yes, it exists).

  • Joe M||

    Rage's first album was kind of a benchmark. The rest, meh.

  • jacob||

    Evil Empire was decent. They fell off the proverbial cliff after that.

  • Suki||

    The real funny is that Rush has been using them since at least the 1990's and Morello is just discovering this.

  • Tony||

    Sure he's a cog in a capitalist machine while being a liberal... but at least he's not a racist misogynistic right-wing clown.

  • ||

    No he is just a hypocrite who doesn't actually believe what he says. Woody Gutherie never was a cog in the capitalist machine. He never took out copyrights on his music. But Gutherie was a real socialist who actually believed what he said not a limousine liberal who wants the benefits of capitalism while raging against it.

  • ||

    White Indian make profound point about Libertarians and Democracy. Must take notes. Contemplate.

    You really are the funniest poster ever.

  • ||

    Now we are calling people gay. You knew that was coming. It is so funny when you call people fags and gay. It is almost you think it is an insult or something.

  • ||

    LOL Fag is not calling people gay. Good to know. You never fail to amuse.

  • ||

    You are just a fag man. LOL. It is like 7th grade again. I love the greifer.

  • White Idiot||

    I'm shocked, shocked to find that gamboling is going on here!

  • ||

    Though artists can certainly make their feelings known about the use of their music on the radio, they have no real legal power in actually enforcing demands to cease and desist.

    No kidding. They've sold the rights to the song and cashed the check. Now, of course, they want it both ways.

  • R. Limbaugh||

    Hey Jackass, stop cashing my checks for your clown music.

  • Rhywun||

    John, proof that it does get worse than Rage.

  • ||

    True. But isn't ICP trying to be horrible? Doesn't that put them in a different class? Rage is more like "worst band that anyone ever took seriously".

  • ||

    Lana Dey Rey? People know she is fake (and still not very good) yet still slobber over her.

    Green Day? They pretty much destroyed rock music by turning punk into a soulless muzak.

    Paul McCartney? His career after Wings is embarassingly awful.

  • Rhywun||

    I liked "Dookie" but not enough to pay any attention to them after that.

  • ICP||

    Fucking contracts, how do they work?

  • ||

    Tom Morello sucks donkey balls.
    Musically, as well as politically.

  • ||

    You are just old Brooks. No, they are horrible.

  • Trespassers W||

    I heard Bomb Track for the first time in years yesterday.

    That's probably my favorite album that I can't actually listen to.

  • Ice Nine||

    Oh Lord, is that really one of their album covers? As if their dick-shit name wasn't sufficient to inform us of their tedious politics.

  • ||

    You are just so clever White Indian. Tell us more. We love you White Indian. What would we do without your comic relief and wit?

  • ||

    You are so cool. Why you so mad bro? Oh I don't know. Why you so mad bro? LOLOL

    Thanks again for entertaining all of us Bro.

  • ||

    You tell us all about it. LOL. Are you going to cry now? Is sad clown sad now?

  • ||

    I don't know. Probably from laughing so hard.

  • Ice Nine||

    So these things are just key word computer-generated drivel then, or what?

  • ||

    It is kind of like ananobot. But I think we have offended him. He doesn't bless us with his rants on the agricultural city state anymore. That is a shame really. Those are always a hoot.

  • fish||

    Yeah but when it stops with that nonsense it starts sounding a lot more like your favorite reason.com tortured soul.

  • ||

    He or she is an artist. Some of the posts, especially the angry ones are pretty damned funny.

  • ||

    You are so cute when you call people fags.

  • ||

    You are so cute. Now you are citing wikipedia. They have a troll speak dictionary. Who would have thought such a thing. I bet you created the entry.

  • ||

    We all pow to the power of the troll speak dictionary. Come one call someone gay again. That is always funny.

  • ||

    I have to admit. You linking to the wiki troll dictionary is as funny the fifth time as it was the first.

  • ||

    The only good internet memes are nyon cat and "come at me bro"....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH2-TGUlwu4

    and good guy Greg cuz Greg is awesome.

    Usage of any other only diminishes your argument.

  • fish||

    Hey fat boy...shouldn't you be typing out more "Clusty" project stuff?

  • fish||

    especially your body over which I obsess

    I appreciate the irony!

    And it works for Godesky or rectal.

  • fish||

    Bad music lyrics aside that's nice.

  • ||

    Fish has a real thing for stupid fat guys. Everyone has to have a kink I guess.

  • fish||

    It's my problem. I'll deal with it.

  • ||

    I love you White Indian. So funny.

  • jacob||

    No. That picture was a cover of one of the singles.

  • ||

    This is still one of my all time favorite videos...

    David Byrne forcing a politician to publicly apologize on YouTube for using his music without permission.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4k13LmlcUE

    LOL

    Oh, and I'm not sure we capitalists should criticize leftists for using capitalism to reach a wider audience.

    And KrishnaCore was something a lot of straight edgers got into back then. There's something to learn from these subcultures about how to coalesce into a counter cultural movement. We're not necessarily better than they are at using capitalism to expound our values, but we're definitely not as good as they are about creating movements out of nothing. ...despite our wider appeal.

  • Kochtopussy||

    Oh, and I'm not sure we capitalists should criticize leftists for using capitalism to reach a wider audience.

    This is your free market at work, LOLbertarians! Oh... wait...

  • ||

    Kochtopussy. So clever. So funny.

  • ||

    But that doesn't allow to call everyone pussies and raffirm your manhood.

    We all just laugh at you now. You are just an act dude. Live with it. When you are not here, some of the regulars pretend to be you so we have something to laugh at.

  • ||

    I'm not sure we capitalists should criticize leftists for using capitalism to reach a wider audience.

    Mostly, I think we mock them for attacking capitalism, while being perfectly willing to cash those filthy, exploitive capitalist checks.

  • ||

    Hey, even the Zapatistas have a gift shop!

    http://www.newstatesman.com/tr.....an-oventic

    They presumably sell their coffee on the open market, too.

    They're still anarchist, autonomous and free. The government doesn't make any incursions onto their territory. And the more capitalist they become, the better, isn't it?

    There's like a strategic contradiction there if the more capitalistic they become, the more we make fun of them. We should welcome them with open arms...

    I think de la Rocha has been heavily influenced by the Zapatistas, and if we capitalist libertarians can't seem to homegrow our own countercultural figures like that, then converting some of them (if only partly) may be the next best thing.

  • Suki||

    Learning to sell stuff to them is the most important lesson Steve Jobs learned.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    There's something to learn from these subcultures about how to coalesce into a counter cultural movement.

    Especially since it was a very small subset of straight edge, and punk in general. There was not a Hare Krishna presence in the scene at all before 1986/87. Then the Cro-Mags, and especially Ray Cappo from Youth of Today started to use themes of Krishna Consciousness in their songs. The real turning point was summer of 1991 when Cappo toured with his new band Shelter, and Vic DiCara's (Inside Out) new band, 108. I went to a couple of those shows that summer (Louisville, Dayton, C-bus), and Shelter was fucking powerful. I literally could see kids at those shows transform their thinking. By the end of that tour, Krishna was a major presence in the straight edge scene.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Ray is charismatic, so there might have been a cult of personality that facilitated the movement. Also, Krishna Consciousness was aligned with the principles of straight edge, so it really just added a "spiritual" element to many kids existing lifestyle choices.

    How does that translate to making libertarianism a counter cultural movement? It's an interesting challenge. I think there are personalities like Praxgirl, and the EconStories folks that produce great content. But they are an internet phenomenon. The Krishna/straight edge confluence happened in warehouses and community centers, and were organized by an informal network of youth crews. It was truly a grassroots movement.

  • ||

    I could not identify a song by this group. I have heard the name, but I'm pretty sure that my two sons have mentioned it in a derogatory way. Having said that, anyone who uses Ernesto Guevara's image to sell anything is obviuosly a social and political retard.
    I'm not defending the gasbag who plays their music.

  • shrike||

    Lets see, conservatives have Ted Nugent.

    That is about it. Conservatism retards creativity.

  • ||

    Or being creative necessarily implies being stunted in other areas, like critical thinking.

  • ||

    Not enough Freeper. You are such an angry troll today. Gamboling not go well yesterday? Five Guys out of fries?

  • ||

    Angry troll is angry. LOL Come "BRO" why are you so mad? Tell us more about the Kochtopussy and the agricultural city state.

  • ||

    I would but I am laughing too hard to type straight.

  • ||

    No I can't. You have disabled me with laughter. Your posts are so funny that I can't stop laughing long enough to answer a simple question.

    Come on, nothing is funnier than christfag and freeper. Cut me some slack.

  • ||

    All hail J Bob Dobbs.

  • Shorter Shrike||

    Double ditto!

  • shrike||

    Right, because critical thinking conservatives concoct magic dickheads in the sky out of nothing.

    Got to love Conservatism. Its all about "critical thinking".

  • ||

    A lack of critical thinking skills causes you to believe in things like global warming and central planning and that socialism would work if it was only tried properly.

    So yes, lack of critical thinking skills will tend to make you a liberal.

  • shrike||

    Central planning? Socialism? Is that all the Straw Man you have?

    Fuck you, you idiot.

  • ||

    Truth hurts shrike.

  • ||

    Freeper. Funny every time. LOL>

  • ||

    City stater. Even better!!

  • ||

    Now you are really being funny. Is there a font for "righteous outrage"?

  • ||

    The insurance companies are just a bunch of Christfags man.

  • ||

    You tell us all about it Indian. LOL.

  • ||

    I will. I promise. Just as soon as I stop laughing at you. But I have to tell you, that may be a while.

  • Restoras||

    D-. Poor effort at strawman construction.

  • veemee sashimi||

    Well they have Lee Ving as well.

    However there's this:

    Bad Religion: Good musicianship, boring boilerplate lefty politics

    Angry Samoans: Bad musicianship, endlessly amusing nihilist politics

  • ||

    Alice Cooper

    David Lee Roth

    Yeah, short list.

  • nekoxgirl||

    Aren't Rush (band, not talk show host) libertarians?

  • ||

    Rage against the machine is in no way metal. Death to the false.

  • KDN||

    Nu metal ain't metal? But it's right there in the title!

  • Neu Mejican (~_ರ)||

    Rush has also asked Rush to stop using their music.

    Unless I am mistaken, their public performance license does not cover use of the song to sell things...and if push came to shove, I think a case could be made that Rush's use of these songs is more commercial than "public performance". The band Rush's lawyers certainly seem to think that is the case.

  • ||

    I think they are wrong. A DJ using them as a fade out or fade back into commercial is not really selling something. Selling means Nike using Revolution in a commercial.

  • Swamp Think||

    If Rush is an absurdist entertainer, which is his fall back position, then he seems to be using the bumper music as part of the "product" he is selling.

  • ||

    I think the distinction between "public performance" and "selling things" gets to be real hard to find on the radio.

    If playing a song on the radio (and not as part of an actual commercial) is "selling things", then their license wouldn't cover broadcast on any music station, would it?

    How do you distinguish between a talk show playing it as bumper music (essentially, as filler/entertainment), and a commercial radio station playing it on their playlist?

  • ||

    I think selling something is just that, selling something. The music they play in and out of commercials does not sell the show.

  • Neu Mejican (~_ರ)||

    Rush Limbaugh picks songs to sell himself and his view point. "Spirit of the Radio" "Sledgehammer" etc...are used frequently by him and are an attempt to co-opt the song in the same way that Kraft uses "I'll stop the world and melt with you" to sell their cheese products. Kraft had to pay lots of money for the right to associate their product with the song. Rush Limbaugh should have to do the same. Incidental uses get murky, but the WAY Rush uses Rush's songs seems to violate the radio station's license.

  • Almanian||

    You have stretched that silly putty as far as it will go, but thanks for playing.

  • ||

    In general, the use of song segments on the radio should fall under the station's/network's ASCAP/BMI license. The one exception I can think of in Limbaugh's case is the bit from "My City was Gone", which seems very much like a commercial tagline rather than a public performance. Almost like putting the music in a commercial, which wouldn't be covered by the blanket licenses.

  • ||

    That is a great point about Limbaugh. He used that base line so much it really became associated with his show. That would cross the line I think. But absent using the same song a whole lot, I don't see how they can stop it.

  • ||

    In Europe, I believe the artists might have a better case, as they have a much stronger set of residual rights (even after they sell their rights in their work) there under droit moral.

  • Suki||

    But Limbaugh neither owns, nor runs, any stations.

  • ||

    His show is covered by the station license(s), I'm sure.

  • Neu Mejican (~_ರ)||

    From Rush;

    "The public performance of Rush's music is not licensed for political purposes and any such use is in breach of public performance licenses and constitutes copyright infringement,"

    This seems like a valid claim. The question is whether Rush Limbaugh's show is primarily political or whether it is entertainment. Public use of an artists material that gives the impression that they endorse your product or your political idea goes beyond the license that the station has. In spirit, at least, even if it gets to be tough case to win.

  • ||

    At least Abbie Hoffman was honest.

    viz, Steal This Book

  • ||

    Conservatism retards creativity.

    Who can argue with that?

  • ||

    Except that Shreek thinks you are a conservative Brooks.

  • ||

    Sounds like college-boy should've read his record contract a bit more closlier.

  • ||

    Leaving his leftist politics aside, I'm actually a fan of Tom Morello's guitar skills, and would certainly rank him in a "Top 10 Guitarists of All Time" list.

    Have a listen to his solos on "Bulls on Parade" "Killing in the Name", and "Like a Stone" (with Audioslave).

    And a piece of trivia, Jomo Kenyatta's is his great-uncle.

  • jacob||

    What I liked about him is his sound (really, Rage's sound) was quite different than anything that came before it. Yes, there have been numerous imitators, but these guys were the best.

  • Loki||

    I always thought it was ironic that a band whose songs tend to be anti-government are hard core socialists at the same time. They're basically saying "the government sucks, so let's just them run the entire economy, that'll fix everything because OMG PROFITZ R BAD!!!!111!!!!!11!!" That pretty much makes them a bunch of retarded assclowns in my book (Harvard degrees not withstanding).

  • Neu Mejican (~_ರ)||

    They're basically saying "the government sucks, so let's just them run the entire economy,

    Not really. You might want to read up on anarcho-syndicalism a bit.

  • ||

    I'm not sure they're socialists.

    I think they always trended towards anarchism and revolutionary anarchism at that.

  • Don Jose||

    What I find ironic is Tom Morello considers capitalism and the free market equivalent to slavery. Because ya know socialism and communism were such a boon to the common man. The left is so fucked in the head.

  • Jim Treacher||

    "I know what his show is all about, even though it's taken me decades to find out he plays my songs."

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