The Los Angeles-based bandâs attorney sent a cease and desist letter to the Republican presidential candidateâs campaign on Wednesday. A news release says neither the band nor its representatives were contacted for permission to use the 2009 alternative rock hit and the group âhas no intention of endorsing the Romney campaign.â
âWe donât like people going behind our backs, using our music without asking, and we donât like the Romney campaign,â Silversun Pickups lead singer Brian Aubert said in the statement. âWeâre nice, approachable people. We wonât bite. Unless youâre Mitt Romney! We were very close to just letting this go because the irony was too good. While he is inadvertently playing a song that describes his whole campaign, we doubt that âPanic Switchâ really sends the message he intends.â
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an email that the song was inadvertently played during the setup for one event before Romney arrived. The band learned about it in a tweet from Romneyâs North Carolina stopover.
âAs anyone who attends Gov. Romneyâs events knows, this is not a song we would have played intentionally,â she wrote. âThat said, it was covered under the campaignâs regular blanket license, but we will not play it again.â
Saul says the campaign has licensing agreements with BMI and ASCAP.
Silversun Pickups publicist Ken Weinstein says the group and its team donât agree that the songâs use is covered. Attorney Tamara Milagros-Butler said she received a call from the campaignâs general counsel within about an hour of sending the letter.
âAs the former governor (of) the state of Massachusetts, a graduate of Harvard Law School, and candidate for U.S. President, weâre pretty sure youâre familiar with the laws of this great country of ours,â it reads in part. âWeâre writing because we, like you, think these laws are important.â
Milagros-Butler said the band is pleased with the result. She said it was important for politicians to respect musiciansâ rights.
âHard-working folks like them who have worked for years, and years and years building the value of their copyrightâ know the law and that they have to be vigilant about their rights, she said.
âPanic Switch,â which seems to be an indictment of âred viewsâ that âkeep ripping the divide,â helped the quartet earn a Grammy nomination for best new artist in 2009 and joins a long list of songs allegedly purloined by politicians.
These types of dustups are nothing new.
There was Ronald Reaganâs appropriation of Bruce Springsteenâs âBorn in the USA.â Tommy Petty and Michelle Bachmann squared off over âAmerican Girl.â And John McCainâs campaign ran afoul of a number of acts in 2008, including Jackson Browne and Foo Fighters.
Republican candidates arenât always targeted. Soul singer Sam Moore asked President Barack Obama to stop the use of âSoul Manâ in his 2008 campaign.