Of Copyrights and Campaigns: Fox News Network v. Carnahan for Senate

My sec­ond post for the William & Mary IP blog is up.  It dives a lit­tle deeper into one of the cam­paign video cases that my pre­vi­ous post cov­ered:

In Sep­tem­ber, Fox News filed a copy­right infringe­ment suit against the cam­paign of Robin Car­na­han, the Demo­c­ra­tic then-can­di­date for Missouri’s U.S. Sen­ate seat.  (Cara­han was even­tu­ally defeated at the polls by Repub­li­can Roy Blunt.)  The com­plaint alleged that Carnahan’s cam­paign “usurped pro­pri­etary footage from the Fox News Net­work to made it appear – falsely – that [Fox News] and Christo­pher Wal­lace, one of the nation’s most respected polit­i­cal jour­nal­ists, are endors­ing Robin Carnahan’s cam­paign.”  The ad (which you can watchhere) con­sists almost entirely of footage taken from Wallace’s inter­view of Blunt on Fox News ear­lier this year.  In addi­tion to copy­right infringe­ment, the com­plaint alleges inva­sions of Wallace’s pri­vacy and pub­lic­ity rights.

There are at least two key issues at stake in this law­suit.  The first is the nature of the rights that Fox News is seek­ing to pro­tect.  Instead of alleg­ing an infringe­ment of eco­nomic rights to its work, Fox News focuses its com­plaint largely around the effect of the unau­tho­rized use of its work on its rep­u­ta­tion.  Through­out its com­plaint, Fox News speaks of the ad “com­pro­mis­ing its appar­ent objec­tiv­ity” and “mis­lead­ing” its view­ers into think­ing that it endorsed Car­na­han as a can­di­date.

The afore­men­tioned CDT reports put it best: “These are not copy­right inter­ests.”

Click through to read the rest.  [Update: It’s also now live on State of Elec­tions.]