March 12, 2010 | By corynne mcsherry

Fox and National Public Radio Have Something in Common: Taking Down Obvious Fair Uses

The Fox News Channel boasts that it takes a different approach to news coverage than, say, CBS, NBC, or NPR. But it appears Fox takes the same approach as its competitors when it comes to fair uses of its news coverage in political advertisements: to try to shut them down using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's rapid-fire notice and takedown process.

Ben Smith at Politico reports that the Fox news network has used a copyright claim to cause YouTube to disable access to a Democratic National Committee advertisement less than 24 hours after it was posted. The ad, which accuses Senate candidates competing in the Republican primary of focusing on trivial issues, excerpted less than a minute of a Fox interview with one of the candidates.

The DNC has fought back, firing off a letter to Fox explaining the "DNC's use of the clip is squarely within the bounds of fair use" and demanding that Fox effectively withdraw the claim. The DNC also implicitly threatens to sue Fox under Section 512(f) if it continues to maintain the copyright allegations, and name checks EFF's Lenz case in the process.

As a news organization, and so presumably familiar with the concepts and application of fair use, Fox should know better. Let's hope Fox will take this chance to distinguish itself from its rivals and show its support for free speech by withdrawing its spurious copyright claim.

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