In the lawsuit, the singer says he "cannot allow his music to be used as a 'theme song' for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate"


By Benjamin VanHoose
August 05, 2020 10:53 AM
Neil Young and Donald Trump
Angela Weiss/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Neil Young is taking legal action against Donald Trump for using his catalog of music on the campaign trail.

On Tuesday, the Grammy winner, 74, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, looking for up to $150,000 in damages for each infringement, according to the Associated Press. Young took issue with his songs like “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk” being used at Trump campaign events.

In the complaint, which Young shared on his website, the artist said he "in good conscience cannot allow his music to be used as a 'theme song' for a divisive, un-American campaign of ignorance and hate."

Reps for Trump's campaign did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Young claims in the documents that the Trump campaign repeatedly used his songs at events, including the controversial rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. He explained that he has spoken publicly against his music being used at political events since June 2015, when Trump, now 74, played "Rockin' in the Free World" at his event to announce his run for the presidency. He alleged that organizers never obtained licenses to use the music.

"This complaint is not intended to disrespect the rights and opinions of American citizens, who are free to support the candidate of their choosing," Young clarified in the filing.

Neil Young and Donald Trump
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images;

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Young has long been outspoken against Trump. The singer-songwriter, who is originally from Canada, shared the news on his website in January that he became an official United States citizen — to vote against Trump.

He updated fans about his citizenship with a photo of himself standing in a salute pose next to a sign that read, “Democrats register to vote here.”

“I’m happy to report I’m in!!” Young wrote above the photo. “Vote your conscience,” he added, along with an emoji of an American flag and a Canadian flag.

He also shared a video on Instagram, in which he waves a mini flag with the American stars and stripes on one side, as well as the Canadian maple leaf on the other. “I’m proud to be a Cana-erican,” he sings in the video, combining his two citizenships into one.

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In February, Young posted a scathing open letter on his website, in which he he said Trump is a "disgrace to my country." He explained that he felt the President was responsible for the “mindless destruction of our shared natural resources, our environment and our relationships.”

“Our first Black president was a better man than you are,” Young wrote, continuing: “The United States of America, my country, is not a green on one of your branded golf courses that you can ride around on and damage so that other players cannot shoot straight.”