Fox News Too Cowardly To Refuse Critical Ad Because It's Critical, Claims Copyright Instead

from the wimps dept

It's become something of a sport in the past decade for roughly half of America to mock, dismiss, and otherwise tear down the Fox News channel. Personally, I'd rather like to see all of cable news go away, but there are times when I think the criticism is a tad selective and unfair. For instance, it'd be very easy to lambaste the network for the man-clowns they trotted out in the wake of a Pew Research study that showed that mothers currently make up nearly half of American household's primary wage-earners. What was for me a meh-inducing announcement was a sign of the surely-coming apocalypse for Lou Dobbs, Erick Erickson and Juan Williams. They're easily targeted as examples of the bad on the station, but if you're blinded by ideology or party alliance, you probably didn't bother to shine a light on the absolutely glorious rebuttal by Fox News host Megyn Kelly.

What we have there is an example of Fox News presenting two sides of the debate and among their own hosts to boot. In case you can't see it, Kelly uses clips from Lou Dobbs' show within her own to demonstrate her point. I mention this only to demonstrate that Fox News was not sufficiently embarrassed by the dumb things said by some of their commentators to keep from re-airing them on another of their shows. When an advocacy group wants to use those same clips for an ad-spot, however, suddenly the scramble to copyright claims has occurred. An anti-sexism group named UltraViolet submitted the ad to air on Fox's channel, painting the commentators in a negative light and then asking them to be retired from Fox News. You might expect the channel to dismiss the ad simply on the grounds that they don't want to denigrate their own programming, but that wouldn't help in trying to keep the spot off of other networks, would it? So Fox instead relied on the go-to protocol for censoring negative information. Per UltraViolet's media buyer, Buying Time, LLC:

Team – Just heard back from Fox Business. Unfortunately, Fox has rejected the ad. Due to their copyright rules, they can’t air an ad that uses their material in a spot.
It's a dumbfounding refusal on its face and is almost certainly being used as an excuse rather than a legitimate claim. Certainly nothing in copyright law would keep a network from airing commercials that use its own footage, valid copyright claim or not. It's their footage. Beyond that, this seems like a clear-cut case of fair use, the clips being central to a critique which does not seek commercial gain, are not significantly long in use, and in a way that certainly doesn't compete against Fox's own programming. Watch the ad for yourself:

Whether you think that women being primary bread-winners is okay, or whether you think that it's just the first step in the lizard-people's plot to systematically ruin American families so that children will be easy pickings for their hungry salamander love-children, using copyright claims to put down criticism is an abuse. Thankfully, UltraViolet is savvy enough to still put their spot up on YouTube instead of being too scared to show it.

Filed Under: commercials, copyright, critics, fox news

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 8 Jun 2013 @ 11:31am

    Re: one day

    one day the techdirt staff will figure out that having a video on their swanky expanding pages isn't very good if the video covers the expander.

    The expander has been tested on multiple browsers, and they all appear to work fine when video is there. What funky browser are you using? We can check it out.

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