Lots of heat being generated in the Republican runoff for the 3rd District congressional nomination (Steve Womack v. Cecile Bledsoe).
Latest is a complaint that Bledsoe has violated copyright by using materials from Womack ads in her ads.
(A Bledsoe worker says an attorney is reviewing the complaint, but adds: "It is unfortunate that Steve Womack has resorted to legal intimidation on this subject rather than letting the voters decide the facts for themselves." UPDATE: And more from Bledsoe on jump.)
Monday, June 1, 2010 – Cecile Bledsoe has been served with a cease and desist notice regarding her alleged violation of Federal copyright laws.
The notice was served by legal counsel for Walker Productions, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company, who owns the copyright in the video, audio and photographic stills used in the “Womack for Congress” advertisements. Bledsoe’s TV ads, Internet ads and mail pieces contain copyrighted video and photographic stills owned by Walker Productions.
“Ms. Bledsoe’s use of our copyrighted material in her commercials constitutes a clear violation of Federal copyright laws. Using our copyrighted footage for her negative attack ads is completely unauthorized and goes far beyond “Fair Use” of materials in advertising where they use a small piece of footage,” said Walker Productions President, Rick Walker.
Walker went on to say, “We will be seeking injunctive relief and seeking to recover damages as a result of her deliberate snub of the Federal copyright laws. This isn’t something she can blame on a campaign worker. SHE approved the ads. She says so at the end of their commercial, which uses our footage and stills. They make candidates say that, so that the candidates are personally accountable for what is said and shown in their ads. Some people will stoop to any level. Bledsoe has hit a new low.”
Federal law provides severe civil and criminal penalties for the unauthorized reproduction, distribution or exhibition of copyrighted materials.
BLEDSOE NEWS RELEASE
Steve Womack unleashed his out-of-state political operative today in an effort to intimidate Cecile Bledsoe for doing nothing more than quoting his own words. Womack’s attempt to censor debate demonstrates his contempt for the voters, the Constitution and healthy democratic debate. Cecile Bledsoe will stand up to these intimidation tactics, defend the Constitution, and serve the voters of the Third District—just as she will when elected to Congress.
A recent television advertisement quotes Womack’s own words, informing voters that Womack refuses to rule out higher taxes, will not be “seduced” into repealing ObamaCare, and favors a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens. These are critical issues to Third District voters, who deserve to know Womack’s positions. This kind of threat of litigation is typical of left-wing trial lawyers and has no place in a Republican congressional primary election.
An obscure out-of-state political operative paid over $64,000 by Womack’s campaign accused the Bledsoe for Congress campaign of violating a copyright by quoting Womack’s own words. Had he consulted a qualified lawyer, this operative would know that the advertisement is core political speech protected by the First Amendment and the “fair-use” doctrine of copyright law. Should he proceed with these baseless charges, the Bledsoe for Congress campaign will not only vigorously fight these frivolous claims, but also pursue sanctions against all parties responsible for abusing the legal process.
Cecile Bledsoe stated, “I am saddened that Steve would resort to frivolous legal threats to censor debate. Voters in the Third District want and deserve a robust debate on these critical issues. Steve is no doubt frustrated as conservatives and Republicans rally to my campaign, but I have done nothing more than quote Steve’s own words. That he would go to such extremes to censor my campaign simply shows how desperately he wants to hide his record from the voters. I am proud of my campaign and I will not be intimidated by these tactics.”