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Using popular songs, YouTube in political campaigns an issue for some

From the Beatles and Marvin Gaye to Fergie and U2, a who's who of popular music stars are providing the soundtrack to online campaign commercials for Texas candidates.

But while Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and others would normally incur high fees to use these songs in television ads, they aren't paying a dime to use them in videos posted on YouTube. In some cases, candidates are freed from copyright law restrictions if they allow their campaign videos to be used as commercials for the songs heard in them.

"Political campaigns like ours have long considered the use of such songs in Web videos as acceptable under fair use rules," Hutchison campaign spokesman Joe Pounder said.

In statewide and local races, candidates have made YouTube a major part of their election strategy.

"It's an inexpensive way to put out a message," said Mark Miner, Perry's campaign spokesman. "The goal in the campaign is to use every outlet possible to get your message out."

Music is often key to delivering that message.

Perry and Hutchison have used songs to solicit laughs in several online attack ads. A video from Perry's camp on Hutchison's use of private planes employed Fergie's Glamorous. Hutchison used the O'Jays' For the Love of Money in an ad on Perry's fundraising practices.

Most Texas campaigns are not getting explicit permission from musicians or copyright holders to use the songs in these Web videos. Occasionally, that's caused some headaches.

Last summer, Perry's camp posted a video introducing its Home Headquarters program designed to rally supporters. The clip included part of the song Such Great Heights from the indie pop band the Postal Service. Soon after, a law firm representing the band contacted the Perry campaign.

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