Mitt Romney To Fox News: Here's A Lesson In Fair Use

from the fair-use-on-the-campaign-trail dept

Who thought that the presidential campaigns would have anything to do with copyright issues? If you said yes, you'd be in a small group. However, as we pointed out last week, Fox News has been sending cease-and-desist letters to Republican candidates for using snippets of the Republican presidential candidate debates in their ads and on their websites. Other networks have agreed to allow the content to be used freely, but not News Corp.-owned Fox. We figured that most candidates would back down rather than getting tangled in a legal battle, but that might not be the case. Against Monopoly points out that Mitt Romney's campaign sent Fox News a letter describing the campaign's use of the material as clearly falling under "fair use". Fox News has shot back that it does not, but so far that seems to be as far as things have gone. Where it will get interesting is whether either side is willing to file an actual lawsuit (News Corp. being much more likely to actually file, but the Romney campaign could always try to get a declaratory judgment). Considering how little attention gets paid to copyright issues during presidential election cycles, this may be about as close as it gets.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    ProphetBeal, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 9:58am

    Fight the power!

    This is just stupid. News Corp and other large companies love to push "copyright infringement" down all our throats. If Romney actually stays the ground and fights them back...he may just get my vote, if I do actually vote ;)

     

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  2.  
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    TheDock22, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:16am

    I've said it once...

    I still think the Senator is in the wrong about this issue. Just because the footage is of him in a debate does not mean he has the right to use it how he sees fit.

    If I happen to be filmed in a tv show or movie, that does not give me the right to take that snippet of the movie and put it up on my website (or blog).

     

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  3.  
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    Milton, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:24am

    Re: I've said it once...

    Gee, you REALLY don't understand fair use, do you? You probably should read up a bit before commenting again.

     

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  4.  
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    TheDock22, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:29am

    Re: Re: I've said it once...

    Well then explain it to me. Fox paid for the footage and Fox owns the rights to the footage. A candidate is using this footage for his own agenda and which may help him profit off of this footage.

    Which part is fair use?

     

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  5.  
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    chris (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:36am

    Re: I've said it once...

    fair use is not using something as you see fit. it's using something fairly. that's why it's called "fair use" and not "free use".

    i think using content of any kind in public discourse that pertains to the political process should be fair use.

    they are using it to educate the public on the issues. that's the very definition of fair use.

     

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  6.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:39am

    Corporations Creating Law and Executing Law

    I guess I am getting more radicalized. It seems to me that we, are entering an era were corporations seem to 1. create "law", 2. define how to interpret the "law" they have created, and 3. establish the punishment of the "guilty" party on their own volition. All without any acknowledgment of due process.

    TPM Election Central, on November 2, 2007, had a Romney article titles: " Romney Defies Fox News' Ban On Use Of Its Debate Footage. Fox news is not a government agency with police powers; so they can't ban anything. Its unfortunate that TPM used the word "ban" since it is inappropriate since use of the word implies that the activity is illegal, which it is not.

    Also on November 2, 2007 TechDirt had the article "Oregon Attorney General And University Of Oregon Tell The RIAA They're Not Its Free Investigators".

    In reading articles such as these, the anecdotal evidence is that corporations believe they can be police, the jury, and the executioner.

     

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  7.  
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    Ben (profile), Nov 5th, 2007 @ 10:43am

    Which Senator is in the wrong? Romney is unemployed at present, but he used to be governor of Massachusetts.

    Fair use is nicely described in the (amusing) Disney hash-video pointed to by http://techdirt.com/articles/20071102/125418.shtml

    Provided their use doesn't make News Corp's property less valuable, and it is for educational use, part of critical discussion, or even parody, then it is "fair use" (note there may be a fourth category). I find it hard to believe that use of the Romney portion of the debate alone would reduce the value of News Corp's "property".

     

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  8.  
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    Wolfger, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:42am

    rest assured...

    ...my answer to the question "Who thought...?" is definitely not "Yes." I typically save "Yes" as an answer for yes-or-no questions.

     

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  9.  
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    Wolfger, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Re: I've said it once...

    Not only do you not understand "fair use", you also appear to not understand "read up a bit before commenting again"...
    For your convenience:
    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re: Re: I've said it once...

    Fox does not have ownership over ideas expressed in the debate. The candidates are allowed under fair use to show things that they have said, as the ideas stated are (presumed to be) their own. If Fox actually prevents candidates from using the footage, fox is violating intellectual property law by laying claim to ideas that aren't theirs. This is one of the reasons many tv and radio shows open with the disclaimer "the ideas expressed herein are not necessarily those of [x] broadcasting company." The other reason is so the network can't be sued for controversial ideas expressed on air. It works both ways

     

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  11.  
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    zcat, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 12:18pm

    Duh!

    It's not about who's IN the footage. It doesn't mater a flying fuck if Mitt Romney is the one doing the debating. It doesn't matter a flying fuck if it was a public debate. Fox News owned the cameras and mixing desk and video recorders. Fox News owns the copyright to what they filmed. Get over it.

    But; Copyright infringement means we're copying (in whole or part) without adding value of our own.

    Fair Use means we're copying something for the purposes of education, commentary, whatever. We're not just copying the whole thing, we're adding significant value of our own, creating something that's a NEW work which happens to include bits and pieces of the material that's already out there. Copyright exists 'to promote the sciences and useful arts' -- Fox can make some money on flat-out duplication, nobody else is allowed to do that, so they're encouraged to create the content in the first place. But the reason we want them to have this incentive is ONLY so that other people (Romney, Clinton, Letterman, whoever..) can end up with the raw footage to reuse 'fairly' in creating their own work.

    That's how I see it. IANAL, just an idealist..

     

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  12.  
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    TheDock22, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I've said it once...

    For your convenience:
    http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html


    Actually I have read up a lot on fair use, but since you kindly cited the article allow me to pick it apart:

    Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered “fair,” such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

    Criticism...nope not this because the candidate is not criticizing Fox which would be the way this fair use (he can not, for instance, criticize another candidate).

    Comment...he was not commenting about the issue at hand because his issues are the content of the news coverage. His thoughts are content, not comment.

    News Reporting...which is a no since he is not reporting about any news story, just pushing his agenda. Very distinct difference here.

    Teaching...nope because he is pushing his own agenda. He is not "educating" the public. He is making a sales pitch all in the sake of voting. Educating the public would be if he said the environment needs help, but not this is how I would help the environment. Education needs to be about facts, not opinions.

    Scholarship and Research...well it is kind of obvious why these do not count so I am not even going to explain.

    The fact is his videos are nothing but his opinions about what he would do in office and about the other candidates. If it was all pure fact he might have a case.

    Now if he used the footage with an audio overlay talking about how unfair Fox is being, that would be Fair Use. But he is using the footage, the content itself which is not fair use at all. If anything, fair use protects against people just displaying content.

    I can not just post an episode of a show I like and say it is fair use. It does not work that way. Although Fair Use is a grey area, I hope this goes to court so some definite rule can be set.

     

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  13.  
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    Overcast, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    Good ol' Faux News!

    That's ok - I have FREE USE of my remote too. And I *used* to watch Fox all the time.

    Well, kinda I get more and more of my news from the web. But this will shy me away from what little bit I did watch them. I'm no big fan of any news station nor Mitt Romney, but they should let the guy use clips that he was in.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Joe, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    You killed your own argument

    Teaching...nope because he is pushing his own agenda. He is not "educating" the public. He is making a sales pitch all in the sake of voting. Educating the public would be if he said the environment needs help, but not this is how I would help the environment. Education needs to be about facts, not opinions.


    This is where you fail.
    5. to inform: to educate oneself about the best course of action.
    –verb (used without object)
    6. to educate a person or group: A television program that educates can also entertain.
    (Taken from Dictionary.com)

    He is, in fact, informing or educating a group of people about his ideas. Sales pitch or not, him using the footage to tell the public his ideas is educating them as to his political stance. This information can be used to make rational decisions on who to vote on in a public election.
    The fact that this is used for a decision that affects all the public, and it is presented in a format they can understand and that they can use to see contrasts to other candidates is extremely educational.

    Heck, teaching is easy enough to qualify for in this case.
    (1. to impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in) (Again Dictionary.com)
    He is imparting knowledge of his position on agendas that will have national importance.

    It doesn't matter if you think he's selling something. He's trying to teach people what he considers important on a national level. Considering it will affect the decisions that will elect someone able to guide public policy on that same national level, it is well in the realm of public information that can and should be taught.

    (Short version: You injecting your opinions on it being a sales pitch does not invalidate it being something in the public interest to be taught. Have a good one.)

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    TheDock22, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 1:07pm

    Re: You killed your own argument

    You injecting your opinions on it being a sales pitch does not invalidate it being something in the public interest to be taught. Have a good one.

    How can you educate someone about your opinion? It is your opinion and may have no factual basis. Education is the underlying principle of presenting someone with facts. If you say education is simply teaching whatever you believe then our schools are in serious trouble. I could see how an opinion might be educational to some, but if you try and take that argument to any educational or research institute they will laugh at you.

     

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  16.  

    Politics and Media - What a Combination

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know if the candidates in the debate had to sign some kind of waiver giving Fox full rights to their images and that sort of stuff?

     

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  17.  
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    ehrichweiss, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: You killed your own argument

    How can you educate someone about your opinion? It is your opinion and may have no factual basis.

    Are you being purposefully dense here? I could educate you on a work of fiction that truly would have no factual basis, and your teachers did it on an almost daily basis soo....where was your point going again?

     

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  18.  
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    TheDock22, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: You killed your own argument

    But, most works of fiction I read in school could be tied to real historical facts.

    I am just it is a real stretch to say this political candidate was educating anybody in the true sense of the term. My final opinion is if Fox does not want him using the footage he had no right to do so.

     

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  19.  
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    Teilo, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You killed your own argument

    Your "final" opinion? As in, "This is my opinion, and that's FINAL!" ?

    As opposed to your "initial" opinion?

    Incidentally, your "final" opinion blatantly contradicts fair use. What Fox News wants is irrelevant. Many organizations do not want anyone to practice fair use with their material. But those organization do not get to decide what fair use is, and do not get to override fair use laws.

    By the way, do you work for Fox News, by chance?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 4:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: You killed your own argument

    most works of fiction I read in school

    We're not talking about the works of fiction you read in school though. If the world of fiction was limited to that, it would be a limited field indeed.

    My final opinion is if Fox does not want him using the footage he had no right to do so.

    Your opinion thankfully isn't the law. If it were you'd find that I could limit your ability to respond to any insults I made e.g. "you're a corksucker and you can't reply to my comment without breaking copyright"....sounds great but that's not how it works.

     

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  21.  
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    Overcast, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 9:09pm

    Dunno, actually after more thought about it - perhaps these politicians should live with the laws they make?

     

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  22.  
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    lobotomy boy, Nov 7th, 2007 @ 9:04pm

    but would they care if Rudy wanted to use some footage , this is the question.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 9th, 2007 @ 6:20pm

    Re: I've said it once...

    I still think the Senator is in the wrong about this issue

    Hey stoner - Romney was a Governor - of Massachusetts. You wouldn't know where that is because you're too 420 friendly.

    dumbass

     

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  24.  
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    Lucas, Nov 27th, 2007 @ 5:28am

    i do bnhfd jfdhsakj fhdsj

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    steve, Jan 17th, 2012 @ 9:04am

    mitt the next elite to destroy america

    Mitt Romney is part owner of fox news and just as anti-american as obomba, baaaaaaaa says the dupes.

     

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