Huh? Why you see ABC15 footage in political advertisements

Posted at 11:19 AM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 16:25:10-04

We have heard from many of you about political advertisements using ABC15 footage that are running on our air. 

Your concern is our concern. ABC15 has nothing to do with the creation of the political ads, nor is the ABC15 video used with our consent. How does it happen then? It's part of something called fair use.

Section 107 of US copyright law makes it legal for a number of groups to use copyrighted material without the copyright holder's consent. In other words, the Democratic Party (and the Republican Party) can use portions of our newscasts without having to ask.
The legal term for this is called "fair use" and it's a provision of the law that we, as journalists, use almost daily in our reporting.  We may use a movie clip, a chunk of a TV show or YouTube video, or yes, even a political ad in a news story, without asking permission.  
"Fair use" allows this for the purpose of comment and criticism and news reporting, and for other non-commercial uses such as education and research.  Political campaigns are included as well.
Why don't we just pull the ads or refuse to air them? FCC regulations require us to run political advertisements provided by candidates for federal offices. The rules are clear:  We have to provide reasonable access, equal opportunity access, and we have to do so at the "lowest unit rate." In other words, we have to accept the ads from all parties, and we have to give them the best price we offer. It's a condition of our FCC licensing.

We understand that this use of our newscasts by political campaigns can be confusing, and that's why we've taken the time to write this article and explain what's happening.

If you have more questions, please let us know.