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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. 


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.”

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