I wonder, though, whether the Repubican Party's use of the song isn't fair use. It's political, non-profit speech. As I recall, Reagan profited mightily off of Born in the USA back in 1984 despite Bruce's mighty protestations against the use. I'm Snapped Shot's worries that the RNC might be blowing money on defending a copyright infringement suit might be misplaced.
In the heart of his 1984 re-election campaign, Ronald Reagan made a speech in Hammonton, New Jersey, and took the opportunity to invoke the name of one of the Garden State's favorite sons.
"America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside our hearts," the president said. "It rests in the message of hope in the songs of a man so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen."
Reagan -- or his speechwriter -- was likely thinking of one song in particular: "Born in the U.S.A.," the title cut from Springsteen's No. 1 album of the time. . . .
But look deeper, and there was another dimension to "Born in the U.S.A." The song was the ferocious cry of an unemployed Vietnam veteran.
"Down in the shadow of the penitentiary/Out by the gas fires of the refinery/I'm 10 years burning down the road/Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go," Springsteen sang in a working-class howl.
The singer wasn't amused by Reagan's appropriation of his work.
"I think people have a need to feel good about the country they live in," he later told Rolling Stone. "But what's happening, I think, is that that need -- which is a good thing -- is getting manipulated and exploited. You see in the Reagan election ads on TV, you know, 'It's morning in America,' and you say, 'Well, it's not morning in Pittsburgh.' "
The singer, who spent much of 1984 on a huge concert tour, dedicated "Born in the U.S.A." to a union local at one stop.