ABC Sports alleges Pawlenty campaign violated copyright by using Miracle on Ice footage

ABC Sports is alleging that Tim Pawlenty violated copyright law when his campaign used footage from “Miracle on Ice,” to which ABC Sports owns the rights, in a new political ad.

The footage of the U.S. hockey team’s amazing defeat over the Soviet team in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games appears in Pawlenty’s newest ad, “The American Comeback,” released Thursday and running on Iowa television.

According to a report by ABC News, ABC Sports is contending that it did not give the Pawlenty campaign permission to use the footage.

“We would never authorize the use of our proprietary material for use in a campaign for any candidate,” Louise Argianas, a spokesperson for ABC Sports, told ABC News.

The Pawlenty campaign maintains that its use of the footage was in full compliance with the law.

“All of our campaign television advertising is carefully reviewed by the campaign’s lawyers to ensure compliance with the copyright laws, the federal election laws, and other legal provisions. The campaign’s ‘Miracle on Ice’ advertisement was carefully reviewed for legal compliance and we believe fully complies with the ‘fair use’ doctrine. We respect ABC’s concern and look forward to responding to their inquiry,” wrote Pawlenty spokesperson Alex Conant in a statement.

Trevor Potter of Caplin and Drysdale, who served as general counsel to the McCain campaign, says that such arguments about campaign ads are common. (Huntsman’s campaign manager resigns)

“Every campaign gets into these sorts of disputes when they use commonly-available video footage that is subject to intellectual property protection. The campaigns always contend that the footage they used is ‘fair use’ (only a small portion of the protected material), not confusing to the viewer, and protected political speech under the First Amendment. Copyright holders are conversely pushed by THEIR lawyers to ‘protect’ the copyright by objecting to all unauthorized uses, even political ones such as Pawlenty’s. These disputes are usually resolved by the campaign agreeing to cease use of the offending footage – a concession that usually comes after the campaign has already decided the ad has served its purpose and moved on anyway. Almost never do they result in a final judgment on the legal issues by a court,” Potter wrote in an email.

  • letsbehonest

    Unfortunately, Pawlenty is team Russia.

  • hoxfan

    I don’t know who is right or wrong, but it seems that politicians on both sides think anything is fair game for their political ambitions. There have been numerous violations as far as the use of music in political ads and campaigns by both Republicans and Democrats. It would seem that a simple check with the owner of record would be a smart thing to do instead of research to prove it’s correct. Whether it’s illegal or not, it’s easy to jump on such things and characterize it as a mark against the candidate. In other words, user beware.

  • joeaiello

    The only miracle here is of this insurance salesman Pawlenty getting the GOP nod for the presidential ticket next year. As I said, the Koch Industry controlled “Tea Party” republican loons are the best thing to ever happen to us Democrats! Good luck in 2012!

    • BigRmv

      Nervous, Joe?

  • Pingback: Tim Pawlenty In Hot Water Over Use Of “Miracle On Ice” Footage

  • Mune Shadowe

    Do you think these people even care about the law? They will break and spit on it until they win and worry about the consequences later.

    • The_anniebanannie

      “Do you think these people even care about the law?”

      I have absolutely no doubt that Pawlenty cares very deeply about doing the right thing and following the law.

    • BigRmv

      I suspect you don’t know anything about the Copyright or Fair Use laws.

      There are four major tests that one must meet for fair use. They include:

      The purpose of the use. For example, educational, transformative, informative, parody/satire.

      The nature of the copyright, such as published or unpublished, plays a big role.

      The amount of work used. i.e., Was it a paragraph, a photo, the whole book sans covers? etc.

      The effect upon income derived from the work, such as–does using this photo deprive ABC from making money selling the work elsewhere.

      The fact that the images are of the US hockey team–a team that represents the country–and have been around for decades in nearly every possible environment and that the use is not only similar to other uses but likely won’t harm ABC’s income at all is probably enough argument for a newly minted lawyer to prove that it was fair use. That lawyer might even be able to show that the controversy generated renewed interest in the team and therefore, increased revenue for ABC.

      So, instead of guessing and making hasty generalizations about all that you see, do a little research. Besides, I wonder if a search of the Limewire or Napster folders on your PC would stand up to the same scrutiny.

  • buzzkill59

    I watched the ad and they used 13 seconds.As I recall fair use says anything under 17 seconds(I think)is permissible.Would ABC say anything if Obamao or his butt buddies had used it?Doubtful!

  • BigRmv

    Assuming the violation is in fact a violation, I’m not sure which is worse–That, or the quote “We would never authorize the use of our proprietary material for use in a campaign for any candidate…”

    This is ABC, after all. Their newsies might as well put their Obama 2012 buttons on now.