NPR objects when its news report is excerpted in Maine political ad

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Is it fair use for opponents of Maine’s same-sex marriage law to excerpt an NPR news story in a political ad? NPR said “No!” and demanded that the political action committee Stand for Marriage pull the ad from television and the Internet. But lawyers for the group rejected NPR’s request. The PAC’s use of the “very short audio segment” is noncommercial and is protected by the First Amendment and U.S. Copyright law, attorneys wrote in an Oct. 20 letter to NPR’s deputy general counsel. Last week, NPR objected publicly. “It is critical for us to protect our credibility and the trust the audience has in us,” says Dana Davis Rehm, NPR senior v.p., in this TV news report. “This ad really distorts that.” With the vote on Maine’s same-sex marriage referendum coming up Nov. 3, there is not really much else that NPR can do, according to this report by Maine Public Broadcasting. YouTube pulled the TV spot from its website at NPR’s request, but a blogger from Michigan has reposted it. “Since NPR is taxpayer financed, that is OUR content!” he writes. You can listen to the news report in question, “Massachusetts Schools Weigh Gay Topics,” here. Reported by Tovia Smith and presented on All Things Considered in September 2004, the story examined how public schools would treat gay topics after passage of the Massachusetts law legalizing gay marriage.

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