ABC Sports Accuses Pawlenty Presidential Campaign of Copyright Infringement

Accusations of unauthorized use of copyrighted material in political advertisements have become a staple of U.S. presidential elections. As of today, it can be said that the 2012 election season will be no exception. The Des Moines Register reports that ABC Sports will issue a cease and desist letter to Republican Presidential contender Tim Pawlenty over the use of ABC footage from the 1980 Winter Olympics in a Pawlenty ad. ABC Sports says Pawlenty violated copyright with ‘Miracle on Ice’ footage (Jul. 21, 2011). The ad, titled The American Comeback, includes footage from the iconic “Miracle on Ice” hockey match, in which the U.S. Olympic hockey team, against all expectations, defeated its rival from the Soviet Union. According to the Register, the ABC representative claimed, “It’s a violation of our copyright and exclusive proprietary rights.” However, Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant claimed the campaign’s use of the constituted a protected fair use of ABC’s copyrighted video. “All of our campaign television advertising,” Conant said, “is carefully reviewed by the campaign’s lawyers to ensure compliance with the copyright laws, the federal election laws, and other legal provisions.”

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