Candidate Is in Hot Water with Singer Tom Petty’s Estate

By: Nick Leydorf
estate planning and elder law attorney
Meet Nick Leydorf
My practice is dedicated to helping families get their affairs in order so that they can stay out of court and out of conflict. I’ve experienced first-hand how a lack of planning can have a terrible impact on a family. One morning, my wife received a phone call that her mother had been found unconscious in her bathroom and had been rushed to a local hospital. We panicked and drove to Grand Rapids as fast as we could to be with her. For two weeks, she never regained consciousness and she passed away. My wife and I were devastated.
After the 2022 midterms, the estate of late songwriter Tom Petty tweeted a statement that condemned the use of Petty's 1989 hit "I Won't Back Down" in one failed gubernatorial campaign.

Politicians or anyone else can't simply use a copyrighted piece of music in an ad or at a large-scale public gathering without paying the composer for the rights or at the very least asking their permission, explains MSN’s recent article entitled “Tom Petty's Estate Won't Back Down From Going After People Who Use His Music.”

After the 2022 midterms, the estate of late Tom Petty tweeted a statement that condemned the use of Petty's 1989 hit "I Won't Back Down" in a failed gubernatorial campaign.

This wasn't the first time Petty's song "I Won't Back Down" was at the center of a copyright disagreement. Before he died, it was pointed out that the chorus to pop singer Sam Smith's hit "Stay With Me" shared a striking similarity to the melody of Petty's song. In that case, Smith agreed to list both Petty and Jeff Lynne, who together wrote "I Won't Back Down" as "Stay with Me" co-writers, according to Rolling Stone.

In the case of the brewing Petty estate feud with failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, Petty's song "I Won't Back Down" provided the soundtrack to a television ad Lake released after her loss to Democrat Katie Hobbes.

According to the Petty estate tweet, Lake's campaign did not ask permission or seek a license to legally do so. As a result, they were looking at their legal options to stop its use by the campaign and to prevent it from happening again, based on Billboard reporting.

"The Tom Petty estate and our partners were shocked to find out that Tom's song 'I Won't Back Down' was stolen and used without permission or a license to promote Kari Lake's failed campaign," the tweet read. "This is illegal ... We are exploring all of our legal options to stop this unauthorized use," and to prohibit future misappropriations of Petty's anthem," the Petty estate tweet continued.

In 2020, the Petty estate also took issue with former President Donald Trump when he used the same song at one of his campaign rallies.

The Petty estate joins a long list of other well-known musicians who had a problem when President Trump used their song without first paying or asking.

Reference: MSN (Nov. 21, 2022) “Tom Petty's Estate Won't Back Down From Going After People Who Use His Music”

Suggested Key Terms: Estate Planning Lawyer, Asset Protection, Probate Attorney, Copyright

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