Fox fights free speech

Incredible. Fox goes after John McCain’s campaign to cease and desist use of a clip from the last debate that has the Fox logo on it.

It would be shocking enough for Fox to go after a citizen who put this online — and we should all fight for that citizen’s right to do so. It’s all the more shocking that Fox is going after a presidential candidate. It’s triply shocking that Fox is going after Republican McCain.

This precisely why we have been fighting for the networks to assure that they would make debate footage available to all of us. When I spoke with FoxNews about their policy in May, they said they would abide by fair comment and use. Well, as Stanford’s Lawrence Lessig has pointed out often, this is the problem with fair use: you can argue about it (and have to hire attorneys to do so).

McCain, to his credit, is telling Fox to shove it.

But one way to solve this is for all the candidates to pledge that they will not appear on any network’s debate unless that network frees the footage for all candidates and citizens. It is, after all, our election.

The AP reports:

In the ad, McCain is shown at the debate saying: “A few days ago, Senator Clinton tried to spend $1 million on the Woodstock concert museum.”

“Now my friends, I wasn’t there. I’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event,” he says. “I was tied up at the time.” It was a referance to the 5 1/2 years McCain spent in a North Vietnamese prison.

The Fox News logo is in the corner of the ad.

But Fox News bars candidates from using debate clips in ads, and officials there sent a cease and desist letter to McCain. McCain rejected the request, arguing that he is within the law’s “fair use” rights to use an 18-second clip of a 90-minute debate.

Here’s the commercial. Take that, Fox:

(Had the wrong commercial up before; corrected now.)
(Crossposted from Prezvid, where there’s lots of interesting stuff lately.)

  • Eric Jaffa

    RE “But one way to solve this is for all the candidates to pledge that they will not appear on any network’s debate unless that network frees the footage for all candidates and citizens.”

    The candidates should require “permission for anyone to make any commercial or non-commercial use of a debate video” before agreeing to a debate on that network.

  • Eric Jaffa

    My point is that people making commercial documentaries (as well as campaign commercials) should be free to use debate footage.

  • I agree Eric, a USA Presidential debate is public domain, I don’t care who paid for the hall.

    The Fox logo should be blanked out tho. You know when video docu is walking the street doing a shot and t-shirts have to be blurred out, same thing.

    Is this a 1st for footage used and threat of legal action from Fox? Do they (News Corp or the Queens territories) have a stake in Woodstock or the museum?

  • Why on earth would it be to Fox News’s disadvantage to have their logo shown? It’s publicity.

  • Video now says “no longer available.” Hmmmm.

  • Outrageous.

    I can’t help, however, to think there is a cynical crack in there somewhere about the reality of our two party spectrum being about as diverse and intelligent as network TV. ; }

  • Mark Lukasiewicz

    NBC News and MSNBC have a debate usage policy posted at Check it out. The policy would allow this kind of use.

  • Jeff,

    You are against this First Amendment “abuse” but not against McCain-Feingold? I

    It’s ironic and ridiculous all at once.

  • Nut,
    Would you please take a memory course? I long ago questioned McCain Feingold. Find another note to sing, please.

  • Jeff,

    How many times have you complained about the FCC, Howard Stern’s woes, and other censoring of profane speech?

    Add them up and compare, or should I say ‘contrast’ it to the paucity of your token complaints against McCain-Feingold (and other suppressions of political speech).

    When the ratio is inverted I will find another note to sing. Meanwhile I will occasionally do you the favor of adding much needed ‘diversity’ to your blog threads. Where did all the fun commenters go anyway? The stooges you’ve attracted these days are boring.

  • Hi, Nut…miss me?

    Um…this is just really totally predictable, Jeff. In fact, I seriously doubt Citizen Murdoch had anything to do with the ruckus in question.

    Networks are like large, semi-sentient colonial organisms…they graze placidly but if they recognize anything that even HINTS of piracy, they go ballistic…often for the most idiotic of reasons.

    All McCain has to do is place a personal call to Rupert and this will most likely all go bye-bye…with the requisite reprimands issued to overzealous flunkies, of course…

    In the meantime, for anybody to take ANYTHING Fox has to say prima facie is nearly as dumb as the furor Fox has stirred up in the name of copyrights, here. Too bad O’Reilly didn’t get hold of this sooner so he could stuff one of his wingtips in his gob over it….

  • Tour

    Video isnt working anymore