This is the second time in the current presidential election cycle that a band or musician has legally requested that a Republican candidate stop using a song. In June, Tom Petty’s camp sent Michele Bachmann a cease-and-desist request for using the song “American Girl.” Washington Post music critic Chris Richards wrote a history of scuffles between politicians and musicians last summer.
Along with Bachmann, Gingrich is in the company of former president George W. Bush, Sen. John McCain and former Florida governor Charlie Crist, all of whom have been involved in disputes over campaign music. Crist was sued for $1 million by the Talking Heads’ David Byrne for using the song “Road to Nowhere” in a campaign video, and Crist settled out of court.
Gingrich’s right to use the song at political rallies is in a legal murky area — courts have not ruled definitively that playing a song at a political rally could amount to copyright infringement. Perhaps Gingrich should follow Romney’s example at a recent Florida rally: He could provide his own music by singing.