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ABC Sports may hit Pawlenty campaign with cease and desist letter (updated)

Posted by: under 2012 Presidential election, Gov. Tim Pawlenty Updated: July 21, 2011 - 11:36 PM

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s new “Miracle on Ice” ad may be hit with a cease and desist letter for using footage from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team.

The Des Moines Register reporrted Thursday  that ABC Sports is preparing a cease and desist letter for improperly using the hockey footage in its political ad.

"It's a violation of our copyright and exclusive proprietary rights," said Louise Argianas, director of rights and clearances for ABC Sports, told the Iowa paper. She said ABC Sports retains exclusive rights in the U.S. for the footage.

Mike Soltys, ESPN vice president of U.S. network communications, said in a statement to the Star Tribune: "Neither ABC nor ESPN has asked the Pawlenty campaign to remove any footage from their video, although neither ABC nor ESPN licensed the video to them or authorized its use."

Soltys would not say that the original Register story was inaccurate, and declined to elaborate beyond the written statement.

Update: The Register updated its story late Thursday to say that ESPN, which has ABC Sports under its umbrella at Disney, had backtracked and was now undecided whether it would send the cease and desist letter.

Pawlenty spokesman Alex Conant responded that the campaign believes the footage is allowed because it complies with the “fair use” doctrine.

"All of our campaign television advertising is carefully reviewed by the campaign's lawyers to ensure compliance with the copyright laws, the federal election laws, and other legal provisions,” Conant said in an e-mail. “The campaign's ‘Miracle on Ice’ advertisement was carefully reviewed for legal compliance and we believe fully complies with the ‘fair use’ doctrine. We respect ABC's concern and look forward to responding to their inquiry."

Pawlenty’s ad, which began airing Wednesday in Des Moines, features the former governor’s narration as it cuts to scenes from the gold-medal winning hockey team and Al Michaels’s famous “Do you believe in miracles?” play call.

Argianas said the network will request the Pawlenty campaign pull its “Miracle on Ice” ad and may seek damages for the time it aired.

“And they used our announcer’s voice, which they are not allowed to do either,” she told the Register. “Which I’m going to have to call his agent about.”

Watch the ad in disupte below:

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