Pro-Trump Group Pushes Back After Obama Tries to Get Advertisement Pulled Off the Air

March 2, 2020 Updated: March 4, 2020

A group that is working on getting President Donald Trump re-elected refused to pull an advertisement that features former President Barack Obama talking about his vice president, Joe Biden.

Obama asked television stations in South Carolina to stop running the ad, which features Obama reading some of his words in a way that maligns Biden.

“Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama,” a narrator says before Obama is heard reading from one of his books. An Obama spokeswoman said the video “is clearly designed to suppress turnout among minority voters in South Carolina by taking President Obama’s voice out of context and twisting his words to mislead viewers.”

The Perkins Coie law firm sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Committee to Defend the President, the group behind the ad, claiming that the video featured an “unauthorized use of President Obama’s name, image, likeness, voice, and book passage.”

The use violated Obama’s right of publicity and the U.S. Copyright Act, the firm alleged.

In a response letter, the group behind the ad declined to stop running it, asserting the use of the content “is a lawful expression of political speech” and that it “has complied with all applicable laws and regulations governing its advocacy activity.”

The use of third-party content is either directly licensed or falls within the principles of fair use of copyrighted material, Dan Backer, counsel to the group, wrote in the response.

“Should you feel compelled to continue this Brobdingnagian waste of my client’s time defending this frivolous attempt to suppress free speech, I look forward to the extensive depositions of your client and his various ghostwriters necessary to resolve the matter,” Backer wrote.

The lawyer also asked Perkins Coie for proof that it represents a legitimate rightsholder, referencing the law firm’s involvement in the financing of ex-British spy Christopher Steele and the salacious dossier he compiled against Trump.

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