Freedom of Speech

by on October 29, 2007 · 4 comments

John McCain cuts an ad:

Fox News sends him a nastygram

Here’s a way Hillary Clinton can earn some geek brownie points at effectively no cost:

As the networks who have promised to (effectively) deliver free presidential debates have shown (CNN, NBC, ABC), even when free, it is still worth it enough to at least some. And in a world with YouTubes and p2p technologies, some networks are plainly enough. If Fox demands control, presidential debates don’t need Fox. It is time that the presidential candidates from both parties stand with Senator McCain and defend his right to use this clip to advance his presidential campaign. Not because it is “fair use” (whether or not it is), but because presidential debates are precisely the sort of things that ought to be free of the insanely complex regulation of speech we call copyright law. Indeed, as the target of the attack, and as one who has been totally AWOL on this issue from the start, it would be most appropriate if this demand were to begin with Senator Clinton. Let her defend her colleague’s right to criticize her, by demanding that her party at least condition any presidential debate upon the freedom of candidates and citizens to speak.

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine a more favorable test case for fair use of video, so I’m sort of hoping neither party backs down and we get a solid ruling that making short clips of prominent public policy discussions is a fair use.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    What’s McCain got against Woodstock? Surely it was one of the watershed moments in the evolution of 20th century culture.

    Seriously, the meaning of Woodstock to Americans of a certain age is likely to drown out the “fair use” issues.

    And the ad also illustrates something about the so-called debates: they’re much more likely to provide us with sound bites and grandstanding than with any meaningful insight into the character and principles of the candidates.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    What’s McCain got against Woodstock? Surely it was one of the watershed moments in the evolution of 20th century culture.

    Seriously, the meaning of Woodstock to Americans of a certain age is likely to drown out the “fair use” issues.

    And the ad also illustrates something about the so-called debates: they’re much more likely to provide us with sound bites and grandstanding than with any meaningful insight into the character and principles of the candidates.

  • James Plummer

    & apparently, NewsCorp had no problem with their friend Giuliani using footage from the debate. If NewsCorp picks & chooses which campaigns are allowed to use their footage, isn’t that an in-kind contribution to the one(s?) they do?

    NewsCorp must have picked up on this b/c now the letters are going out to everyone — http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/26/fox-says-all-candidates-to-stop-using-images-from-news-channel/

  • James Plummer

    & apparently, NewsCorp had no problem with their friend Giuliani using footage from the debate. If NewsCorp picks & chooses which campaigns are allowed to use their footage, isn’t that an in-kind contribution to the one(s?) they do?

    NewsCorp must have picked up on this b/c now the letters are going out to everyone — http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/26/f

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