What Rhymes With Cease & Desist?

It is just about that time once again. And I’m only sort of talking about the presidential campaign. I am instead referring to the cease and desist letters from rock stars to presidential hopefuls directing the candidates not to use their songs. The most recent edition is Tom Petty, who’s sent a cease and desist letter to Michele Bachmann, telling her to stop playing “American Girl” at her rallies. Petty is the latest in a long line of rockers that stretches back to Bruce Springsteen who was not happy with Ronald Reagan’s use of “Born in the USA.” More recently, the band Heart was offended when John McCain’s campaign used their song “Barracuda” in honor of, you betcha, Sarah Palin. Jackson Browne took issue with McCain’s use of “Running on Empty” in a 2008 commercial mocking then candidate Obama’s suggestion that motorists save gas by checking their tire pressure. In most cases the tiffs have been resolved amicably. But as the link above notes, the rockers may not have the strongest legal position. There’s a potential fair use defense, and a candidate may purchase an ASCAP or BMI license that would permit the use of the song. Word is, in fact, that Bachmann “won’t back down.” Even if Tom Petty insists that she “don’t do me like that.”