By now you’d think politicians would ask first before using someone’s song during a campaign stop. Guess U.S. House of Representatives member Michele Bachmann didn't get the memo.
While campaigning in Iowa, the congresswoman / presidential hopeful used Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ 1977 hit “American Girl” during a campaign stop. Evidently the volume controls on the Bachmann Campaign’s public address system go all the way up to “11” because California resident Petty heard about the incident and his management has already issued a cease-and-desist order against the Minnesota Republican.
But Bachmann is only the latest politician to run afoul of music artists.
David Byrne sued former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist for $1 million for using the Talking Heads track “Road To Nowhere” in a YouTube video during the ex-gov’s U.S. Senate race. After the politician and the artist came to an undisclosed settlement earlier this year, Crist issued an apology to Byrne via YouTube.
In 2010 Don Henley, Mike Campbell and Danny Kortchmar emerged victorious from an infringement lawsuit filed against U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore. While running in the California senate primary against Carly Fiorina, DeVore’s campaign used the Henley/Campbell-penned “The Boys Of Summer” and Kortchmar’s “All She Wants To Do Is Dance.”
Legal battles over songs used in campaigns aren’t limited to American artists. In 2010 Canadian rock band Rush took aim at then-Kentucky U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul for using the group’s “Spirit Of Radio” during campaign stops. Paul stopped using the tune after Rush’s management requested him to stop.
But the above incidents represent only a small amount of the legal dustups that have occurred over the years when politicians used songs without seeking permission. Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp and Heart are just a few of the acts that have chastised and/or sued politicians for using their work.
One of the more unusual incidents happened in 2008 when former Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau and his band, Capitol Offense, played “More Than A Feeling” during one of then-presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s campaign events.
“By using my song, and my band’s name Boston, you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed,” Boston founder Tom Scholz wrote in a letter to Huckabee.
And to make sure the candidate understood where he was coming from, Scholz added “In other words, I think I’ve been ripped off, dude!”