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NBC: Romney ad violates copyright

Last modified: 1/29/2012 12:00:00 AM
NBC asked presidential candidate Mitt Romney yesterday to pull a campaign advertisement made up almost entirely of a 1997 Nightly News report on Newt Gingrich's ethics committee reprimand.

The 'History Lesson' ad started running in Florida this weekend, when it is harder for stations to switch ad traffic even if they want to. Broadcast days before Tuesday's primary, the ad shows former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw saying that some of Gingrich's House colleagues had raised questions about the then-speaker's 'future effectiveness.'

Under Brokaw's image is a line that reads - 'Paid for by Romney for President, Approved by Mitt Romney.'

The footage was used without permission and the extensive use of the broadcast 'inaccurately suggests that NBC News and Mr. Brokaw have consented to the use of this material and agree with the political position espoused by the videos,' NBC's vice president of media law, David Sternlicht, wrote Romney's campaign manager, Matt Rhoades.

'Aside from the obvious copyright issues, this use of the voice of Mr. Brokaw and the NBC News name exploits him and the journalistic credibility of NBC News,' the letter said. The network asked for the campaign to stop running the ad immediately and revise any other videos or commercials to remove at NBC material.

'As a news organization, NBC News objects to any use of NBC News journalists and our copyrighted material that suggests to the public that we or our journalists are taking sides with any individual or organization involved in a political campaign or dispute, and we request that your organization respect that concern,' the letter said.

Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said the campaign isn't likely to stop running the ad.

'We just received the letter. We are reviewing it, but we believe it falls within fair use,' he said.


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