Wednesday, December 14, 2022
The Tom Petty estate and partners are exploring legal options to stop the unauthorized use of the 1989 single, ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ in campaign ads for failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate and former news anchor, Kari Lake. A two-minute advertisement features a montage of Lake “posing with Trump, wielding a rifle while hunting, smashing TV’s playing CNN and speaking to Arizonan’s to the sound of Petty’s track.”
Over the last five years, artists such as Adele, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Rihanna, and estates of Leonard Cohen, Petty, and Prince, have all objected to the use of their music at political rallies. Campaigns that want to license recordings typically have to have a license from the copyright holder. Most songs are licensed through one of two groups, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) or Broadcast Music Inc (BMI.) While campaigns may obtain licenses from these groups, artists may be able to block the use of their music through a contract clause specific to political campaigns. The more closely a song is tied to a campaign message, the more likely an artist can object to the use of the song according to ASCAP.
For more information see Gil Kaufman “Tom Petty Estate Demands Failed Candidate Kari Lake Back Down After Unauthorized Use of Song in Ad”, Yahoo! Entertainment, November 18, 2022, and Debra Cassens Weiss “Can recording artists stop Trump from playing their music at rallies? Legal theories are untesteted,” ABA Journal, November 6, 2018.
Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.
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