In a new campaign ad, the Conservatives used an artist’s music without permission – again

The party used a melodica version of the Jurassic Park theme tune – borrowed from a 2012 viral video.

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An independent filmmaker from Canada has claimed the Conservative Party have used his melodica version of the Jurassic Park theme song in one of their social media videos without permission. 

The 35-second video, tweeted along with (shock horror) emojis, featured a presumably human person dressed in an inflatable dinosaur costume promoting a “new blockbuster”. The video goes on to say that the Conservative Party has been helping the UK film industry by providing assistance such as tax relief. It then tells viewers to enjoy the new Jurassic World film, some of which was filmed in the UK. 

However, the beginning of the video features the original Jurassic Park movie theme song played on the melodica, a clunky instrument that sounds like a harmonica, which sounds identical to that used in the 2012 video by Patrick Lo, an independent filmmaker from Canada. The video went viral, and has now been viewed more than 15 million times.

Lo says that the Conservative Party did not approach him to ask permission to use his music in their video. 

I contacted Lo via email and he said: “It’s dumb and cringeworthy, not unlike my original melodica parody. But at least mine was intentionally shallow.”

He also questioned the intention of a video claiming to extol the virtues of protecting the film industry while also taking work of independent filmmakers without credit. 

“I feel their message is misplaced. If you want to support the film industry, support the young artists who will define the industry in the coming years instead of focusing on tax relief for production companies who probably got millions to back their projects already.”

Of course, Lo himself was covering an existing theme tune. Copyright law as it applies to YouTube, where the video was posted, is complex: in theory you need a licence. If a copyright owner objects to a cover video being put on YouTube without permission it can lead to the video being taken down and even the account being deleted. However, as Lo’s video has been up for six years without being pulled, and has had incredible reach, it seems that the copyright owners don’t mind a Canadian melodica player’s light-hearted parody. 

However, according to Lo, the Conservatives did not ask permission to use his melodica version, despite a track record of artists objecting to how their music has been used to promote a right-wing agenda. In 2017, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine tweeted that the use of their track “You Got the Love” at the party conference “was not approved by us nor would it have been had they asked”. Calvin Harris also objected to his song “This Is What You Came For” being used at a similar event, tweeting: “I do not support nor condone happy songs being played at such a sad event.”

The Conservative party did not respond to requests for comment.