use of copyright to suppress a political speech

michael curtis curtism at
Sat Dec 1 16:03:37 PST 2007

Re: use of copyright to suppress a political speechHere are a couple of facts that are relevant.  The speech was a political one; the judge posted the speech on his web site for the public to view; utube used perhaps 60 seconds.  In effect the speech posted to the web was a political commercial.  So I guess the new free speech rule is that candidates can broadcast commercials and then if they prove embarrassing sue successfully for copyright to prevent rebroadcast.  This may be copyright law, but I doubt it.  It is lunatic free speech law.  Basically a candidate for election as a judge who makes a political speech & then broadcasts it on the web should not be able to chill political discussion with a successful copyright claim; nor for that matter, as a matter of free speech policy, should we countenance a dubious threat to sue to suppress highly relevant political information which a candidate himself has broadcast--when the use is non commercial; when it is a fairly short segment; and when it is clearly highly relevant to an upcoming election in which the speaker is a candidate. If this is not at the very center of free speech in a democracy, what is? This is a far cry from the private letters of a public figure.  

A candidate for public office must tolerate false statements of fact about him or herself unless they are intentionally false or reckless.  But the candidate has a property interest protecting utterances he chose to broadcast as a political message from being circulated after the candidate finds them embarrassing.  Caveat:  Utube did not say who made the copyright claim.

Michael Curtis
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: jfn 
  To: guayiya 
  Sent: Wednesday, November 28, 2007 2:20 PM
  Subject: Re: use of copyright to suppress a political speech

  At 7:40 PM -0500 11/27/07, guayiya wrote:
    jfn wrote:

      RE: use of copyright to suppress a political speech
      At 8:45 AM -0600 11/27/07, Malla Pollack wrote:

        Speaking as a copyright expert, I predict that the judge's (or his proxy's) law suit would fail. 

      Prof. Pollack gives short shrift to the author's interest in preventing publication of his work


    I am not a copyright caselaw expert, but, as an author, I find this statement genuinely bizarre.  In what context has the law recognized such an interest? 

  Most famously, J.D. Salinger's personal correspondence. I'll grant it's not a perfect fit with a campaign speech.\\

  John Noble


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