(CNSNews.com) - Republican Bill Federer, who is challenging House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt in Missouri's Third District, has begun running television ads in the St Louis market showing Gephardt addressing last year's annual dinner of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington. Gephardt's campaign has filed a protest with the television stations, accusing Federer's campaign of possibly violating copyright laws.
In the ad, Gephardt is seen addressing items on the homosexual group's agenda, including the legalizing of same sex marriages and allowing homosexuals to serve as Boy Scout leaders. "If the majority changes in the year 2000 and I have anything to say about it, I can assure you that these measures, that make good sense and represent the right values for America, will be on the agenda and will be passed."
Gephardt's campaign filed letters of protest with the St Louis television stations, saying the Federer campaign used "unauthorized footage" from C-Span.
"We understand that C-Span does not authorize their footage to be used in political television ads and the Federer campaign may be violating a copyright and other intellectual property rights," according to the letter written to the television stations by Kevin Gunn, a top Gephardt campaign official.
"We ask that you contact C-Span to investigate the use of their footage by the Federer campaign. If the footage is unauthorized, we ask that you immediately stop airing the ad and refuse to accept any ads that use C-Span footage in the future, " the letter said.
Gephardt's campaign did not return phone calls seeking further comment.
Meanwhile, the National Cable Satellite Corporation, parent company of C-Span, has ordered the Federer campaign to pull the ads.
"National Cable Satellite Corporation has confirmed to its satisfaction that the Federer for Congress committee has distributed or is now distributing a television campaign spot containing NCSC-produced video, and that the campaign has done so or is doing so without permission from NCSC," according to a letter to the Federer campaign written by Bruce Collins, an attorney representing C-Span.
Collins was unavailable for further comment.
The Federer campaign contends what it is doing is perfectly legal, according to B.J. Brown, litigation counsel for the American Family Association who is also counsel for the Federer campaign in the case.
"The copyright laws do not protect you against fair use of your product, that is, if it's used for social and political commentary among many other things. What the C-Span news footage is, it is a very newsworthy event. It was broadcast, which puts it into the public domain. The Federer campaign is using it under the 'fair use' statutory provisions under the copyright law and the Federer campaign is not doing it toward economic gain but toward a political end -- a full and robust discussion of political issues," Brown said.
"It's completely protected by the First Amendment and C-Span is barking up the wrong tree," Brown added.
Federer's campaign, according to Brown, has written letters to the St Louis television stations, urging them not to pull the ads.
"They are given no ability to pull the ads or even edit the ads in any way," Brown said.
A spokesperson for KSDK-TV in St Louis said the station has no plans to cancel the ads.
Tom Tipton, general manager of KDNL-TV said, "We're waiting to get a response from the Federer campaign. They insist that the ads are legal and so we are awaiting a response from them and then we will turn it over to our (legal) counsel."
A spokesperson for KTVI-TV said the station will air the Federer ads.
Federer's campaign spokesperson John Diehl said, "We shouldn't be surprised that Dick Gephardt is willing to abuse his power to hide his ultra-liberal activities from the voters of his conservative, St Louis district. It is no secret in Washington that Dick Gephardt has a 100 percent pro-gay voting record."