GOP Politicians Using Music Without Permission Not Just a Petty Concern
According to Rolling Stone magazine, Tom Petty sent Michele Bachman a 'cease and desist' letter ordering her to stop using his song 'American Girl' for campaign purposes on June 28, 2011. You can't really blame Bachman for trying. After all, this isn't the first instance, or even the fifth, of a Republican politician using a popular song for campaign purposes without asking the artist's permission.
You'd think that the party of property rights and 'Christian morality' would have enough sense to ask permission before co-opting a song for political reasons. You'd be wrong. Apparently the Grand Old Party thinks it's perfectly okay to just help themselves to someone else's intellectual property. This is the second time Tom Petty has had to 'back down' a politician who co-opted his song. The first was when George W. Bush 'borrowed' 'Won't Back Down' back in 2000.
The Wilson sisters from Heart had to stop Sarah Palin from using 'Barracuda' during the 2008 campaign, and Jackson Browne and John Mellencamp had to do the same with her running mate John McCain, who was using their songs without permission. As recently as April 2011, Charlie Crist had to apologize to David Bryne for using a Talking Heads song without permission. All the way back in 1984, Bruce Springsteen made it clear he didn't appreciate Ronald Reagan drop his name.
Aren't there any conservative musicians out there whose work is worth stealing? Surely Uncle Ted has a song or two, or Toby Keith. Alice Cooper, anyone? Gene Simmons? Jessica Simpson? (yeah, I know – I was shocked she had a political opinion, too)
For real, Republicans. It's pretty simple. Either ask permission before using a song on the campaign trail, or steal from someone who has a snowball's chance in hell of being flattered. What you're doing just ain't cool.