Hopefully, you have heard of the musician, Joe Walsh. There is a guy currently running for Congress, also by the name of Joe Walsh. Candidate Walsh has used a song by Musician Walsh without permission for his campaign. In addition, Candidate Walsh also changed some of the lyrics to musician Walsh’s song. These are both no-no’s under copyright law.
When you own a copyright, you are the only one that can do whatever you want with your work. If anyone else wants to use your work, they have to get your permission. If anyone else wants to make changes to your work, they have to get your permission. (Since you may be wondering, there are still the fair use and parody exceptions if they apply.)
Musician Walsh’s attorney has sent a letter to Candidate Walsh. The letter is absolutely true in its statement of law, but written in a manner that is hysterical. My favorite part is where Peter Paterno (Musician Walsh’s attorney) says “Now, I know why you used Joe’s music — it’s undoubtedly because it’s a lot better than any music you or your staff could have written. But that’s the point. Since Joe writes better songs than you do, the Copryright Act rewards him by letting him decide who gets to use the songs he writes.” I applaud you, Mr. Paterno.