Music Row and country radio are buzzing about a cease and desist letter sent to radio by Sony BMG Nashville.

The letter, written by Sony BMG Nashville senior VP of legal and business affairs Katherine E. Woods, demands that radio stop playing a Tracy Lawrence album cut featuring Sony BMG artist Kenny Chesney, who records for the company's BNA Records.

Two versions of "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" appear on Lawrence's "For The Love" album, which was released on his own Rocky Comfort Records on January 30. One version, which was serviced to radio as a single last fall, includes only Lawrence's vocals. The second version includes vocals from Lawrence's longtime pals Tim McGraw and Chesney.

The timing of the letter is curious since the song has been on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart for 40 weeks. The song currently sits at No. 4 on the chart, which is based on data from Nielsen BDS. (BDS does not differentiate between the two versions when compiling the data.)

"SMBG did not grant 'singles' rights to Rocky Comfort with respect to the album versions of this song and has not authorized any radio station to play this recording," the letter says. "If your station is playing the album version of the song 'Find Out Who Your Friends Are' embodying Kenny Chesney's vocal performances, SBMG demands that you immediately cease such unauthorized broadcasting. Thank you for your cooperation."

Sony BMG Nashville chairman Joe Galante and executive VP Butch Waugh, as well as BNA VP of promotion Rick Moxley, were copied on the letter.

"This is nothing more than an issue between a major record label and radio," David Newmark, head of country promotion for CO5 Music, which is working the single to radio on behalf of Rocky Comfort, told sister publication Radio & Records. "That issue is whether radio can play an album cut or not."

Joel Burke, program director for country station KYGO in Denver told R&R that he'll continue to play the album version. "I'm not a legal expert, but I don't think anybody can tell us what album cut we can or cannot play. It's available out there for public consumption, and if I choose to play cut nine off an album that I think is going to work for our radio station, I'm going to play it."

Other programmers agreed, although some allowed that they would consult with their company's legal department for guidance on the matter.

A request for additional comment from Sony BMG's Woods was not returned at press time.

-additional reporting by R.J. Curtis, Radio & Records