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Romney defies Fox News ban on use of its debate footage

Just something we should all keep in mind...if he can do it, why can't Dr. Paul?


Romney Defies Fox News' Ban On Use Of Its Debate Footage
By Greg Sargent - November 2, 2007, 12:00PM

The Romney campaign has sent a letter to Fox News saying that they will defy the network's request that all the GOP campaigns "cease and desist" from using Fox debate footage in ads or on their web sites, I've just learned.

Today the Romney camp went up with a new ad bashing Hillary. As Eric Kleefeld noted below, the ad contains a smattering of that debate footage -- despite the fact that Fox's lawyers sent a letter to the GOP campaigns last week demanding that they refrain from using it.

So we checked in with the Romney campaign to see what was up. And Romney spokesman Kevin Madden confirmed that the campaign has informed Fox that they were defying the request.

It's an interesting move by the Romney camp, because by defying Fox they're taking on a network that wields great power in GOP primary politics. Meanwhile, the move is likely to win Romney plaudits from liberals and conservatives alike, because as we noted here yesterday, right-wing bloggers have allied with MoveOn to wage a public fight against Fox's ban on the use of debate footage.

Madden said the campaign was on "very strong legal ground" and gave Election Central portions of the letter the Romney campaign's lawyer sent to Fox in which he argued that Romney's use of the footage is "the very essence of political speech protected by the First Amendment."

More from the letter after the jump.

From the letter to Fox by Romney lawyer Ben Ginsbert:

Indeed, the Romney campaign's use of a very short debate clip to deliver a message about Governor Romney is the very essence of political speech protected by the First Amendment. In addition to the First Amendment, statutes and numerous court decisions protect a political campaign's use of this material in this fashion.


As for the law, the First Amendment's right of free speech protects the use of relevant information such as this in the public discourse. The campaign's use of these statements places this very relevant information in the marketplace of ideas that is a protected part of the discussion of the public policy positions of candidates for President of the United States.


Importantly, the amount of video used by the campaign is only a snippet of the 90 minute coverage of the debate between the candidates. Furthermore, the campaign's creative interpretation of the information contained in the video footage provides the voting public with important information they need to make a decision in this important election.


By contrast, all the Presidential campaigns, including Romney for President, are non-profit entities under Internal Revenue Code Section 527. As such, no campaign commercially benefits from the limited use of debate snippets in its communications, whether on a web site or in 30- and 60-second broadcast messages.

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Its still a sticky subject, and even if it is to be defied, it would have to be the official campaign who used the material; not the grassroots or PACs. Considering none of us are "officially" connected, we will be the ones subject to the laws. Ron Paul PCC might be able to get away with it, but not you and I.

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