Politico and Talking Points Memo reached out to legal experts for reaction to Fox News' complaints about the Robin Carnahan campaign, and there seems to be a consensus among their copyright law sources that Fox's is really reaching with their complaint.
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Legal experts described Fox’s legal tactics as aggressive. Some said they believe that Fox’s suit was the first time a news organization actually sued a political campaign over its use of material from a news broadcast. In addition, while news organizations routinely fact check campaign commercials, Fox’s blunt description of the spot as a “smear ad” pushes the envelope.
While Fox’s suit claims a copyright violation, the network’s main objection is that Carnahan’s use of the video is misleading. However, a copyright suit is generally brought to recover lost revenue due to theft of intellectual property, not to help a firm preserve its image.
“Reputational damage is just not a cognizable copyright interest,” entertainment lawyer Ben Sheffner wrote on his Copyrights & Campaigns blog. He also called the notion that the ad implies that Fox or Wallace endorsed Carnahan “a dubious proposition.”