Did Donald Trump use League of Legends music in a campaign video?
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On January 17th, Donald Trump took to Twitter to publish a short video containing a collection of news clips as proof of “PROMISES KEPT!” [sic]. However, as the video circulated, listeners began to notice the background music sounded familiar to those who’ve spent time watching the League of Legends competitive scene. Rod “Slasher” Breslau, legendary Quake player turned esports consultant, was one of the first to notice the odd occurrence.

Copyright questions

It didn’t take long for other fans to realize where they’d heard the surging orchestral score before. Used for the 2017 League of Legends World Championship during the Champion Select phase, it has become iconic in the LoL community. The song is ‘The Throw Down’ by popular composer Gregg Lehrman. Lehrman has been responsible for scores for The Avengers, Avatar, Mission: Impossible and other blockbuster productions.

As a result, many fans had a similar reaction to Breslau, calling for Riot to issue a copyright claim on the video for using the game’s music. With many many artists recently taking legal action on Donald Trump’s campaign to stop unauthorized music usage, many fans thought this was more of the same. The president is no stranger to complaints from musical artists, receiving Cease and Desist letters from Pharrell Williams, Steven Tyler, Rihanna & R.E.M, as well as a formal removal of a similar campaign video that used the Dark Knight Soundtrack without Warner Brothers’ permission. Due to this, many fans worried that this was another example of the campaign stealing an original composition for political use.

A reality of production

In the hours following the tweet’s release, it became clear that the track in question didn’t belong to Riot Games despite its well-recognized use within the game’s competitive scene. Broadcast Producer for the LEC, John Daniel “Riot Triaged” Depa, tweeted out to assure worried fans that the track wasn’t Riot’s to manage.

Depa went on to refer to the experience of hearing the song elsewhere as “surreal at times, but a reality of production.” While it’s as-of-yet unconfirmed whether the use of Lehrman’s music has been licensed, fans can rest easy knowing Riot’s compositions remain in their rightful hands. As the LCS/LEC wind up to return for their 2020 seasons, stay tuned for more information on competitive changes and updates.