On August 6, 2015, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) in Commonwealth v. Lucas struck down Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 56, § 42 (Section 42), which criminalized the utterance or publication of “any false statement in relation to” a candidate for public office or a ballot question. Violations of the statute were punishable by a thousand dollar fine or up to six months imprisonment.… More
Tag Archives: political speech
Political Speech, Trademarks And The Definition of “Goods or Services”
Last month witnessed the resolution of two trademark infringement cases involving the relationship between political activities and the definition of “goods or services.” On May 18, 2015, State Senator Steve Hershey gave up his right to appeal to the Fourth Circuit from the District of Maryland’s decision that he was infringing the Hershey Chocolate trade dress. On May 19, 2015, however, the Fourth Circuit overturned the case on which the District of Maryland had been relying.… More
Pick Your Passion: State’s Trademark May Be Used To Criticize Its Governor
In Dardenne v. MoveOn.org, the Middle Louisiana Federal District Court faced a conflict between trademark protection, on the one hand, and the First Amendment’s protection of political advocacy, on the other. The Court concluded that trademark law cannot be used to suppress political advocacy, at least in the absence of a compelling need to protect the mark and a demonstrable likelihood of confusion.… More
Political Fair Use Par V: The Dulcet Tones of Presidential Copyright Infringement
Mitt Romney seems to attract copyright controversies like his bank account attracts interest. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Candidate Romney has already had copyright rows with Tom Brokaw and CNN. Now, he’s got three more.
Last month, President Obama’s campaign used Romney’s cringe-worthy rendition of “America the Beautiful” (a song in the public domain) as the atonal soundtrack to a political attack ad.… More
IP Dispatches from the Political Front: Mitt Slings Copyrighted Mud at Newt
Along with January’s hot activity in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination, we also saw the emergence of two more stories about the intersection of intellectual property and political ads.
One issue is “déjà vu all over again”: political fair use. We are once again confronted with the question of to what extent the fair use doctrine (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html) allows for the use of copyrighted news clips in political advertisements.… More
A Copyright Hangover: Political Fair Use Revisited, Again
Political primary season is upon us and, just like a bad hangover, one particular political speech question just keeps creating headaches. To what extent is the unauthorized use of copyrighted material in political campaign advertisements protected by the fair use doctrine? Can political ads borrow a clip from a presidential debate? From a televised sporting event? How about a photograph created by an opponent’s campaign?
We previously reported on copyright dustups over the “Miracle On Ice” ads by former U.S.… More
Do You Believe In Miracles? Political Fair Use Revisited
Several months ago, we highlighted the Canadian Conservative party’s use of the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s copyrighted footage in political attack ads. (Not Quite Fair Use: Canada’s Fair Dealing Exception to Copyright Infringement in the Political Spotlight). In defense of its ads, the Conservative party argued by analogy that such use of copyrighted material for political purposes would be “fair use” in the United States.
ABC Sports has a chance to test that theory.… More
The Political Parody Problem
In a bid to win the hearts and minds of voters, lately political candidates have touted, among other things, their musical predilections. In at least two recent cases, candidates have sanctioned the alteration of the lyrics, but not the tune, of some of their favorite music to shore up political support. The musicians who own the copyrights in those songs weren’t exactly thrilled.
All They Want To Do Is Campaign
In April 2009,… More