COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With nearly one month left until the midterm election and politicians are rolling out political advertisements, including one with NBC4 anchor Colleen Marshall.
How are campaigns allowed to do that? Part of it is connected to fair use, something that allows copyrighted materials, like newscasts, to be used in different forums.
Executive Director of The Ohio Elections Commission Philip Richter said there are not many rules for political advertisements and the commission cannot say much.
“There is an incredible amount of wiggle room anymore,” Richter said.
He said in a case like this DeWine advertisement, it is an uphill battle if a TV station tries to fight it by saying it appears as their anchors are endorsing the candidate.
“To try and say that the mere inclusion is sufficient to identify endorsement is a difficult thing to prove,” Richter said.
According to the fair use doctrine, “if the use employs only a small amount of copyrighted material, fair use is more likely.”
Richter said election laws do not really cover anything regarding fair use.
“Pretty much, candidates, campaign committees, PACs, have an ability to say whatever they want in campaign materials here in Ohio,” Richter said. “And neither this commission nor anybody else really has an ability to act on those.”
He said a few years ago, the court struck down the “false statements” section as it pertains to political advertisements, so the commission cannot even look into cases where people want to assert there’s a falsity.
“There really isn’t any kind of an agency like this that can monitor the truthfulness of advertisements,” Richter said.
Richter said a TV station can take legal action, claiming copyright, but election laws do not speak to that, so the claim would be difficult.