Michele Bachmann Can't Use 'American Girl:' Tom Petty Threatens Suit

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 30, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Is presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann an "American Girl"? Sure, but she can't play that song at her campaign events - at least that's what Tom Petty's cease and desist letter says.

Bachmann had been using the song as part of her campaign message, playing it as she walked onstage during events. Well, maybe it's time for Bachmann to play a different tune.

Rockers and politicians have fighting over the use of music in campaigns for years. Bachmann's case is only the most recent of these spats.

Mainly though, it seems that musicians have issue with right-wing candidates and Republicans using their songs. John McCain got into trouble with John Mellencamp, Foo Fighters, Van Halen, Orleans, and Jackson Browne for using some of their tunes without their express permission.

Ronald Reagan got some heat for using Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," reports Entertainment Weekly.

And, Sarah Palin got into trouble for using Heart's "Barracuda" and Gretchen Peter's "Independence Day," according to Entertainment Weekly.

Musicians often don't want political candidates to use their songs because they are worried that people will think that they are actually supporting the politician's views, or that they are endorsing them in some way.

Though, if Petty sold the rights to their music to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers or Broadcast Music Inc., the license to play his work would have been given to Bachmann if she purchased an ASCAP or BMI license. The license would give her the ability to play around 8 million different songs during a public event.

Maybe Bachmann should feel a little miffed - Petty gave Hillary Clinton permission to use "American Girl" during her 2008 campaign, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Whereas, Michelle Bachmann's "American Girl" use has only earned her some negative publicity - and Tom Petty's cease and desist letter.

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