Fox News Files Copyright Infringement Suit Against Missouri Democratic Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan
On September 15, 2010 Fox News and Chris Wallace filed a suit against Democratic Senate Candidate Robin Carnahan in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, requesting an injunction against further use of a Carnahan campaign commercial, and for unspecified damages. The complaint claims copyright infringement under the Copyright Act as well as invasion of the right of publicity by misappropriation of identity or persona. The lawsuit notes that Fox News Network has not endorsed a candidate in Missouri’s Senate race, though Fox claims that a Carnahan campaign ad gives the impression that Fox or Wallace, or both, endorse Carnahan in her Senate bid.
The Carnahan campaign ad at issue includes a twenty-four second clip from a January 2006 interview by Chris Wallace of Roy Blunt, Carnahan’s Republican opponent in the Senate race. The portions of the interview included in the campaign ad question Roy Blunt about his attempts to benefit tobacco giant Phillip Morris (specifically by trying to include a provision in a 2002 Homeland Security bill), as well as his connections to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s firm. They do not show Blunt’s response to Wallace’s query of whether he is the “one to clean up the House.”
As noted by Eriq Gardner, the lawsuit targets a practice “that has long been common in the political world.
In response to the suit, the Carnahan camp has filed a motion to expedite, noting that “because the lawsuit threatens to interrupt the free flow of information to Missouri’s electorate, and potentially impact a Senate election, Carnahan respectfully requests that the court expedite the case.” The motion indicated that Carnahan’s counsel could have a motion to dismiss ready by as early as Wednesday. As indicated by the motion to expedite filings, the Carnahan camp will fight the lawsuit primarily with a fair use defense.
As an aside, News America Holding, the political arm of Newscorp, Fox News Network’s parent company, donated $2500 to Blunt’s campaign last year and has done so in the past as well.