Tom Petty’s estate has sent a cease and desist notice to failed Arizona gubenortial candidate Kari Lake over her use of Petty’s song “I Won’t Back Down.”
The Republican candidate — who was endorsed by Donald Trump and spouted misinformation about the 2020 election throughout her campaign — lost her gubernatorial race to Katie Hobbs, a Democrat Lake has said should be imprisoned for helping “steal” the presidency from Trump. Lake posted a video using “I Won’t Back Down” to social media, implying that she refused to concede the position to Hobbs, but it was later taken down.
“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 late artist’s family said in a November 17th statement. “This is illegal. We are exploring all of our legal options to stop this unauthorized use and to prohibit future misappropriations of Tom’s beloved anthem. Thank you to all of the fans who brought this to our attention and who help us protect his legacy every day.”
Petty’s ex-wife, Jane Benyo Petty, expressed similar disgust in her own statement, Rolling Stone reports. “Tom Petty would not ever let Kari Lake, an election denier, use his great anthem ‘I Won’t’ Back Down’ to not concede a legitimate election,” Petty said. “Her alliance with Trump makes it even worse. She is getting a cease-and-desist letter. I would like to thank all the fans on Twitter for telling me about the video.”
By Friday, November 18th, Petty’s publisher Wixen Music Publishing had sent a cease and desist notice to Lake. The company wrote that Lake’s use of “I Won’t Back Down” provides the “revolting” false implication that the claimants endorse” her, and said any further use of the track could result in up to $150,000 per infringement. Lake must inform Wixen that she has received the letter by next week, and inform them of any other times she’s used the song in her campaign.
“Tom sang ‘I Won’t Back Down’ at the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit for concert for the victims of 9/11 attack. Not backing down to hatred violence and an attack on our democracy,” Wixen wrote. “The opposite of what you stand for. Using this song to promote your warped values is not only illegal as outlined above, but an insult to Tom’s memory, his lyrics and music, and the tens of millions of fans who cherish his legacy.”
The publisher continued, “Ms. Lake, Tom also wrote ‘Even Losers Get Lucky Sometimes.’ This is not one of those times. Proceed at your peril.”
Politicians have a long history of using music in their campaigns from artists who don’t agree with them, and modern Republicans have a particularly unfit fascination with “I Won’t Back Down.” In 2020, Petty’s estate sent a similar cease and desist letter to Trump, who played the song during a rally for his second presidential campaign.
“Trump was in no way authorized to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind,” Petty’s family said at the time. “Both the late Tom Petty and his family firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would never want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together.”
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. pic.twitter.com/DoT71whO43— Tom Petty (@tompetty) November 18, 2022