Stop Using My Song: 35 Artists Who Fought Politicians Over Their Music

From Springsteen vs. Reagan to Neil Young vs. the Donald

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Jackson Browne vs. John McCain
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Ed Rode/WireImage, William Thomas Cain/Getty Images28/35

Jackson Browne vs. John McCain

When: 2008
Song: "Running on Empty"
Controversy: After the McCain campaign used a snippet of "Running on Empty" in an ad mocking Barack Obama's statements about gas conservation, longtime Democrat Browne filed a lawsuit against the candidate and the Republican Party. "The misappropriation of Jackson Browne's endorsement is entirely reprehensible," the musician's lawyer stated, "and I have no doubt that a jury will agree."
Result: Browne won an undisclosed cash settlement and a public apology from McCain. The New York Times called the suit, along with David Byrne's successful 2010 suit against Charlie Christ, a "turning point" in the long history of politicians using pop tunes without artists' permission. The controversy also helped McCain earn the dubious distinction of most artist objections to song use in campaigns.

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