“Jan Pierce: Active, Honest, and Open Leadership…” Well, not so much.
A few weeks ago the Jan Pierce campaign produced a smear video against the incumbent, Alderman Tony Zielinski. Our own Zach Wisniewski posted the clip with his comments. A few days later I posted the full video of John McGivern’s interview of Alderman Zielinski for his AROUND THE CORNER program for WMVS Channel 10. As I stated a few moments of Mr. Pierce’s video were lifted from the WMVS interview.
Just around this time there was a big brouhaha down in Florida about an ad being run by the Mitt Romney campaign titled: HISTORY LESSON. The ad featured news footage from NBC featuring Tom Brokaw vintage 1997 discussing Newt Gingrich’s House ethics committee reprimand. Now NBC found fault with Mr. Romney’s use of their copyrighted footage and asked the campaign to withdraw the ad or remove the NBC footage. Mr. Romney’s campaign claimed fair use and refused.
Now granted, Mr. Pierce’s use of WMVS footage wasn’t as egregious as Mr. Romney’s. Interviewer John McGivern isn’t shown or heard, only the brief replies from Alderman Zielinski are included. But I started wondering if Mr. Pierce had gotten permission from WMVS for use of this portion of their property for his video. So just over a week ago I emailed three questions to the Channel 10 Viewer Services Department via their website. Their initial response stated they were forwarding my inquiry to their General Manager. And just after noon on Friday February 17th, I received an email reply from Milwaukee Public Television General Manager Ellis Bromberg. Here are his restatements of my questions and his replies verbatim:
You asked if Mr. Pierce had asked for permission to use the video. He did not.
You asked if MPTV condones political use of our content. We do not. When we became aware of the video, we asked Mr. Pierce to have the segment removed from the spot, since the program is copyrighted and Mr. Pierce did not ask our permission to use it.
You asked if use of a segment from AROUND THE CORNER constitutes fair use. In his response to us, Mr. Pierce’s attorney argues that the campaign believes the inclusion of the AROUND THE CORNER segment does constitute fair use, and intends to continue to use it.
At this point, we have no plans to pursue the issue further.
Now obviously I am not an attorney and won’t rule on whether Mr. Pierce’s use of WMVS copyrighted material is fair use or not. Obviously Mr. Pierce (who is a business attorney) and his attorney believe that they are in the right. But since WMVS, a respected Milwaukee cultural icon, requested his campaign to remove their footage, I would have expected an active and honest candidate to take the moral high road and respect their wishes. “…I believe we can set the bar higher and even better”. (That’s fair use, right?)