Petty Song Lands "American Girl" in Hot Water

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Months ahead of the 2012 primary elections, wars of words are heating up between political rivals, some of whom aren’t even running for office. Right now, Michele Bachmann landed herself in some legal hot water when she chose to use Tom Petty's song "American Girl," without the artist's permission. This isn’t the first time artists have taken offense with the political appropriation of their work. 


For some history of politics clashing with popular music we speak with Kelefa Sanneh, staff writer for The New Yorker.


Kelefa Sanneh

Produced by:

Hsi-Chang Lin and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [5]

Camille from New York, NY

This is not how copyright works. All the artists who try and go after politicians this way are working with a fundamental misunderstanding of law and an even greater misunderstanding of culture. If Tom Petty wants to speak out against Ms. Bachmann, he can and should but taking it to the courts is a lame (and wholly uncreative) move for an artist. I wish they'd all stop doing it!

Jun. 30 2011 09:28 AM
John Gromada from Nyack, NY

What do you mean "since when do artists get to control their work?". I am a composer, and keep as much control of my work as possible. The law is very clear on this. As artists we have a right to keep control over our work, and to assign it to others as we see fit.

Jun. 30 2011 08:57 AM
Brian Mosher from Foxboro, Mass

here's a line from American Girl that I hope applies to Ms. Bachman's quest for the Presidency:

"God it's so painful when something is so close, and yet so far out of reach"

Jun. 30 2011 08:29 AM
Scott from Miami Florida

Politicians should have to abide by copyright laws just like everyone else. A radio station plays a song, the commercials pay the radio station, the radio station pays the record company royalties. Politicians, if they use the song, must get written permission from the record company and pay royalties to the record company. Use of the song will help them raise millions of dollars. The copyright laws that were written by politicians should be obeyed by politicians.

Jun. 30 2011 07:23 AM

Time for a "Yankovikian" type makeover of Petty's "American Girl" --- staring Ms Bachmann.

Can't wait for the lyrics. Perhaps Bachmann will sue when she hears them.

Jun. 30 2011 07:00 AM

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