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Can You Really Stop Mitt Romney From Using Your Song?

Brian Aubert of the Silversun Pickups, performs at the Heineken Music Hall in the Netherlands. The band sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Romney campaign, asking it to stop playing the song “Panic Switch” at campaign events.
Brian Aubert of the Silversun Pickups, performs at the Heineken Music Hall in the Netherlands. The band sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Romney campaign, asking it to stop playing the song “Panic Switch” at campaign events. Photograph by Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images

It’s easy to imagine a punk band having problems with Mitt Romney: He worked in private equity, his policies are conservative, and the sport of dressage doesn’t exactly rock. But most of these disagreements don’t involve lawyers.

On Wednesday the band Silversun Pickups sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Romney campaign, asking it to stop playing the song Panic Switch at campaign events. In a sarcastic tone rarely found in legal correspondence, the band’s lawyer pointed out that the song’s lyrics would be unlikely to inspire potential voters, mentioned that “we’re pretty sure you are familiar with the laws of this great country of ours,” and asserted that Romney’s use of the song violated both copyright and trademark laws.