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Use of Songs, Videos in 2012 Presidential Campaign Prompting Legal Challenges

On Monday, Evan Brown noted on his Internet Cases blog that the 2012 presidential election is providing some unexpected material for Internet and intellectual property law enthusiasts to talk about. First, Brown said, the Ron Paul campaign sued certain John Doe defendants in federal court trying to determine who posted an offensive video on YouTube attacking Jon Huntsman. Next, NBC recently objected to Mitt Romney's use of a "Nightly News" video clip from 1997 that showed Tom Brokaw discussing findings of ethics violations by Newt Gingrich.

Today brings yet another campaign development that may interest IP lawyers: a new lawsuit filed against Newt Gingrich's campaign for using the song "Eye of the Tiger" as his entrance music, without authorization, at his campaign rallies. Here are where these three campaign-related disputes stand at the moment:

  • Ron Paul case: A Twitter user who purported to be a Ron Paul supporter ("NHLiberty4Paul") posted the offensive video about Huntsman. Internet Cases reports that the Paul campaign sought “expedited discovery” to allow the service of subpoenas on YouTube and Twitter, but the motion was denied. The court ruled that the Paul campaign failed to show the required “good cause” for expedited discovery.
  • Romney/NBC: Last week, NBC asked the Romney campaign to pull the ad, saying it is a copyright infringement. Romney's campaign responded this week that it believes its use constitutes "fair use" under the law. Internet Cases agrees
  • Gingrich/Eye of the Tiger: Hollywood, Esq. reports the co-author of the famous "Rocky III" song has alleged in a lawsuit that Gingrich's use of the song is a violation of the song's copyright. The co-author is seeking an injunction to end such use. Hollywood, Esq. adds that "fair use" may again be a key issue, but that the "legality of playing music on the stump is one that hasn't yet been tested in the courts." In addition, it is possible that Gingrich's campaign may have a defense if it purchased a "blanket license" from a performance rights organizations such as ASCAP.

Posted by Bruce Carton on January 31, 2012 at 04:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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