Fareed and KEYT trade legal threats over political ad
September 29, 2016
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A dispute over a political ad has resulted in Santa Barbara broadcaster KEYT and Republican District 24 congressional candidate Justin Fareed threatening legal action against one another.
KEYT claims Fareed is illegally making use of copyrighted material and is compromising the station’s political neutrality. Fareed argues the broadcaster does not understand copyright rules, and it is attempting to illegally silence political speech.
Recently, Fareed’s opponent, Democratic congressional candidate Salud Carbajal, was overheard referring to Lompoc as the armpit of Santa Barbara County. The comment sparked protests, and Carbajal’s campaign staff issued an apology.
Seizing on the issue, Fareed’s campaign launched a television ad criticizing Carbajal for the remark about Lompoc. The ad contains an approximately nine-second clip of KEYT anchor C.J. Ward reporting on the controversy.
“Congressional candidate Salud Carbajal is in hot water tonight for comments he made about the city of Lompoc. He called it the armpit of Santa Barbara County,” Ward says in the clip.
On Wednesday, KEYT General Manager Mark Danielson responded to the ad by sending a cease and desist letter to the Fareed campaign.
“The use of KEYT’s news story and its anchor in this political advertisement gives viewers the false impression that KEYT supports Fareed and opposes Carbajal — which is not the case. KEYT takes no position in this political race,” Danielson states.
After sending the letter, KEYT devoted a section of a news broadcast to explaining its response to Fareed. KEYT says the Fareed campaign did not request to use its news content, and the station did not authorize the use of the footage in the political ad.
However, political campaigns regularly make use of television news footage in political ads, and Fareed’s campaign say it is well within its right to do so. On behalf of Fareed, attorney Charles Bell wrote a letter to Danielson on Thursday, refuting the general manager’s claims.
“The use of a brief segment of your news report, which does not use KEYT’s trademark or logo, constitutes a “fair use” of copyrighted material for political purposes expressly permitted by copyright law and case law,” Bell wrote. “The segment in no way states or implies that KEYT has endorsed any candidate in the 24th congressional district race, and thus these claims are simply not correct.”
Bell’s letter states federal law prohibits a broadcast station from censoring federal candidates’ political advertisements. The attorney accuses KEYT of trying to silence the Carbajal Lompoc controversy, which he likened to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remark in 2012 and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s “deplorable” remark this past month.
The letter goes on to demand retractions and corrections from KEYT. Bell is demanding that KEYT retract and correct part of the station’s report claiming Fareed’s advertisement is illegal.
Also, Bell argues the KEYT report implied Fareed was the person who overheard Carbajal’s comment about Lompoc. The attorney is demanding that inaccuracy also be retracted and corrected.
In a statement published by KEYT, the Carbajal campaign said Fareed’s ad was a disservice to viewers because it used the broadcaster’s reporting without permission and took the report out of context.
KEYT General Manager Mark Danielson said the station would not retract the contested statements on-the-air or online.
Fareed and Carbajal have been garnering nationwide attention because of the heated nature of their race, as well as the large sums on money pouring into both of their campaigns.