Former Minnesota governor and current Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty used footage from the iconic 1980 USA Olympic hockey team victory in a campaign spot, and the owner of the footage, ABC, is not amused.
In the add, called “The American Comeback,” Pawlenty is making a play for the underdog role in the current battle for the Republican nomination and ties his effort to the underdog role played by the “Miracle on Ice” upset of the US team over a heavily-favored Soviet Union team that year.
According to reports, Pawlenty is getting a cease-and-desist letter from ABC. The network says that it owns the footage, and notes that the audio voice talent also belongs to the network. It claims nobody from the Pawlenty campaign sought permission to use it.
The Pawlenty campaign is not buying into the fact that it’s in violation of anything. In a statement, a campaign spokesperson said, “All of our campaign television advertising is carefully reviewed by the campaign’s lawyers to ensure compliance with the copyright laws, the federal election laws, and other legal provisions. The campaign’s ‘Miracle on Ice’ advertisement was carefully reviewed for legal compliance and we believe fully complies with the “fair use” doctrine. We respect ABC’s concern and look forward to responding to their inquiry.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Fair use comes up all the time in political campaigning these days – but usually it comes from musicians who are incensed that a politician they do not wish to support uses their music at campaign events. It’s almost refreshing to see a major network get to join the fun.