September 6, 2008 / 4:41 AM / in 9 years

Heart says "Barracuda" use is fishy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The rock group Heart, angry that its ‘70s hit “Barracuda” is being used as the unofficial theme song for Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, is taking aim at the Alaska governor.

<p>Ann (L) and Nancy Wilson of Heart perform at the "Idol Gives Back" show at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California April 6, 2008. The rock group Heart, angry that its 70's hit "Barracuda" is being used as the unofficial theme song for Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, is biting back at the Alaska governor. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

The song, a nod to the “Sarah Barracuda” nickname Palin earned on the basketball court in high school, was dusted off for her appearance at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul on Wednesday.

Heart singers Ann and Nancy Wilson said a “cease-and-desist” letter has been sent to the Republicans asking them not to use the song.

“The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission,” according to a statement issued late on Thursday on behalf of the sisters.

The McCain campaign said it had obtained the appropriate licenses to play the song.

“The McCain campaign respects intellectual property rights,” spokesman Brian Rogers said. “Accordingly, prior to using ‘Barracuda’ at any events, we paid for and obtained all necessary licenses.”

Last month, rocker Jackson Browne sued Republican presidential candidate John McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party, accusing them of using his 1977 hit “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad without permission.

Copyright law may not be on the Wilsons’ side as the song is licensed for public performance under a blanket fee paid by the venue to ASCAP, the firm that collects royalties on behalf of composers and copyright owners.

Despite the Wilson sisters’ objections, one of the song’s co-writers said he was “thrilled” that the song was used.

In an e-mail to Reuters, the band’s former guitarist, Roger Fisher, said it was a win-win situation. Heart gets publicity and royalties, while the Republicans benefit from “the ingenious placement of a kick-ass song,” Fisher said.

But in a subsequent email, Fisher said he strongly endorsed the Democratic ticket, and would donate a portion of royalties he receives from the Republicans’ airing of “Barracuda” to the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama.

“With my contribution to Obama’s campaign, the Republicans are now supporting Obama,” he said.

Fisher and the Wilsons wrote “Barracuda” with drummer Michael DeRosier. It appeared on the group’s second album, “Little Queen” in 1977. The song was inspired by the band’s anger over an obnoxious record label executive.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Jill Serjeant

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