×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fair Use? NBC News Asks Romney Campaign to Stop Using Footage in Ad

NBC News is asking that the campaign of Mitt Romney stop using 1997 footage of a news broadcast for a campaign ad blasting Newt Gingrich.

The Romney campaign ad was unveiled today and essentially lifts then-anchor Tom Brokaw’s report on Gingrich’s ethics violations. The 30-second spot is airing in Florida and is called “History Lesson.”

Brokaw himself issued a statement, via Politico: “I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad.  I do no want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.”

Campaigns have from time to time featured news footage in political spots, almost always arguing that it is a fair use of material. But where it skirts the line is when entire passages are lifted from a broadcast. Perhaps the most egregious example during the midterms was when the Senate campaign of Robin Carnahan ran Fox News footage of her opponent in Missouri, Roy Blunt, that showed him in an unfavorable light. Fox News sued, claiming copyright infringement but also arguing that the spots left the impression that the channel was endorsing Carnahan. The suit was eventually settled, with Carnahan’s campaign pulling the spots.

The Romney spot may be pressing the limit even further, as its ads feature nothing other than the Brokaw report and, at the end, the typical disclaimer, “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.” The courts have generally applied a four-factor test to fair use: the purpose and character of the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount of the material taken and the effect of the use on the potential market. What the courts have not decided is just how much footage constitutes fair use and how much is genuine infringement.

Even if the Romney campaign takes down the spot, they have achieved their purpose: Drawing attention to Gingrich’s ethics violations.

 

More Voices

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

  • Venice Film Festival A Star is

    How Venice, Toronto and Telluride Festivals Stole Cannes' Luster (Column)

    In all the years I’ve been attending film festivals, I have never seen a lineup that looked as good on paper as Venice’s did this fall, boasting new films by Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”), Damien Chazelle (“First Man”), Paul Greengrass (“22 July”), Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”) and the Coen brothers (“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs”) in competition, [...]

  • Black Women in Medicine BTS

    Hollywood Needs to Include People With Disabilities on Both Sides of the Camera (Guest Column)

    In five years, nothing has changed. Despite open calls for greater diversity and inclusion, recent research shows that there was little change in the number of characters with disabilities in popular films in 2017. A study conducted by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that [...]

  • Seven Seconds

    Fighting the Racial Bias at the Core of Hollywood’s Cop Shows (Guest Column)

    If fiction is the lie that tells a deeper truth, the TV crime genre has been, for the most part, the lie that simply tells a lie. As a storyteller (Veena) and an advocate for racial justice (Rashad), we collaborated for the past two-and-a-half years in an attempt to reimagine the roles of cops, victims, [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Trial

    Column: Documentarian Barry Avrich Ponders Whether Harvey Weinstein Will Be Convicted

    Will Harvey Weinstein go to jail? That’s perhaps the most debated topic in Hollywood. It’s a question that makes me miss my friend Dominick Dunne, the controversial Vanity Fair columnist who would have already succeeded in interview-ing the chambermaids at Harvey’s sex-addiction clinic. Dunne once prophetically told me there would be a massive reckoning in Hollywood. He [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content