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Tilting at Windmills

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July 6, 2010

GOP LAWYERS FIGHT TO KEEP ANGLE'S PUBLIC VIEWS SECRET.... Within a few days of Sharron Angle's Republican primary victory in Nevada's Senate's race, her campaign website had been yanked offline. As of mid-June, visitors to Angle's official site could donate money to the extremist candidate, but that was literally the only link on the page. Voters wanting to know more about the candidate had to go elsewhere.

There was no real mystery here -- in the wake of Angle winning the nomination, it was time to scrub the site, removing content that made the GOP Senate hopeful look nutty. The campaign team did exactly that, taking three weeks to meticulously remove all references to Angle's stated plans to scrap Social Security, abolish the Department of Education, crack down on immigration, expand offshore oil drilling, etc. Sam Stein and Elyse Siegel noted that a review of the old and new Angle campaign sites shows "dramatic, fundamental shifts in her policy platform."

Not surprisingly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) campaign believes the public might find Angle's stated, published agenda educational, so it re-published the Republican candidate's original issue positions online for voters to see.

In response, Angle's lawyers threatened a lawsuit, demanding that Reid's campaign not show voters what Angle has said she believes.

Sharron Angle has resorted to an unusual maneuver to counter Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's attacks on her past quotes and positions, the Reid campaign has announced: A cease-and-desist letter, demanding that Reid no longer republish Angle's previous campaign website.

As Angle's lawyers argued in their cease-and-desist letter, Reid's campaign team was misusing copyrighted materials by re-publishing Angle's own website.

Regrettably, Reid's lawyers apparently concluded the argument had merit, and took down the site, directing visitors to a different site mocking Angle's extremism.

I can't speak to the copyright issues, but I would have liked to see litigation proceed in a case like this. Have we ever had a case in which a U.S. Senate candidate went to court to keep her own published platform hidden from public view?

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

Reid did the right thing: while a court case may have entertainment value to the left-blogisphere, and may be precedent-setting legally, for the campaign it's just an unnecessary distraction.

The GOP response, including the C&D letter, plus having the ur-Angle content still online (hopefully offshore, so the Angle-tards can't get it taken down), is already full of "win".

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on July 6, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Did they really take the content down? Actually they didn't. They just moved it off their website and linked to another site containing the information. Instead they published the C&D order. Mock compliance at best. The next step is for Angle to bring a lawsuit. Far from being a distraction such a suit, which is meritless in the face of the "fair use" doctrine, could be the centerpiece for Reid's efforts to label Angle nuts.

Reid's only concern has to be the perception that he wimped out when he took down the content. His on image is that he is weak. That is the only reason he is in trouble.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 6, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Does this mean Google's cache is illegal?

Posted by: Z. Mulls on July 6, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Just proof that Reid is a pawn of the trial lawyers;>

Posted by: martin on July 6, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's just the "morning after" a holiday weekend, but I find this LOL funny.

Posted by: msmolly on July 6, 2010 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Regrettably, Reid's lawyers apparently concluded the argument had merit, and took down the site, directing visitors to a different site mocking Angle's extremism.

Illustrating in a nutshell the reason that there is such tepid support for Harry Reid's candidacy. He collapses under the slightest pressure.

Snarki, child of Loki said:
Reid did the right thing: while a court case may have entertainment value to the left-blogisphere, and may be precedent-setting legally, for the campaign it's just an unnecessary distraction.

Are you kidding? This is only a distraction for Angle's campaign.

Every time the legal fight comes up, more and more Nevadans will go to the website to see what Angle really stands for. Every time it comes up, it looks more and more like Angle has something to hide. Every time it comes up, the media will be forced to talk about how Angle has suddenly changed her positions.

When the legal fight is brought up, all the Reid campaign has to do is say that they are simply trying to give Nevada voters truthful information. Unless the Reid campaign is committing political malpractice, they should be talking about Angle's pre-nomination views everyday, anyway.


Posted by: SteveT on July 6, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

"His o(w)n image is that he is weak. That is the only reason he is in trouble."

Really? Wasn't he instrumental in getting healthcare legilation passed in the face of total Republican obstructionism? Hasn't this Congress done incredible things considering there is absolutely NO help from the Republican side of the aisle? The only thing weak about Harry is those who claim to support his party are sometimes guilty of giving in too easily. Thank good ness he doesn't now and never has.

Posted by: Vandal on July 6, 2010 at 9:01 AM | PERMALINK

Um, yeah, duh. Taking down the content is classic Harry Reid weakness, a weakness which had me strongly considering making a donation to Reid's GOP opponent until the GOP decided to nominate possibly the worst Senate candidate in U.S. history.

But of course Reid's campaign shouldn't have taken it down. Let Angle bitch and moan and stir up all kinds of media controversy, let Angle drive traffic to Reid's web site. Let the Nevada press spend the next 4 months talking about the controversy over Angle's previously stated positions that she's now running away from. Reid's victory would be in the bag.

Reid may be reasonably competent at making policy, but he's a shitty party leader and politician. Why the Senate Democratic caucus continues to keep him in a leadership position is beyond me.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 6, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Ron, your point only has validity if Reid owns/controls sharronsundergroundbunker, which I very much doubt. If there is coordination, it would probably take a year of litigation to resolve it, and Angle doesn't have that long.

Besides which, at this point about half of the internet would be glad to host the content, just to give a big "FU" to those who try to censor.

Which makes any C&D suit completely moot. The Angleoids got what they asked for, if they don't like the result, TFB.

As for the link, *that* has already been litigated: a link is not a copy, and there's no statute or caselaw that prevents one from pointing to a site, particularly when the site in question is not the one complaining.

Reid isn't going to look weak from this, the complaints can trivially be dismissed as "whining from an extremist, trying to keep the public in the dark about her flip-flops."

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on July 6, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Reid's lawyers agreed to take down the site but did not concede anything to Angle. That way, they can bring back the site closer to the election.

Posted by: CarlP on July 6, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

BTW, I probably did not make my point very well:

Reid certainly is not in the clear, and yes, one of the issues is how tough he is politically.

But this website stuff is something that the blogosphere cares about, not so much the voting public, and Reid is better off focusing on making his case with the public. And that means issues like jobs, health care, financial reform, and GOP obstructionism.

As long as the information is out there were it can be easily found, *Reid* doesn't have to be the one providing it. He can point to it, he can talk about it, he can use it in ads, but he doesn't have to get tangled up in copyright issues.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on July 6, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

The tongue in cheek, "pawn of the trial lawyers"

If only Reid had the guts of many trial lawyers, instead of acting like some snivelling corporate lawyer. Some of the guttiest attorneys, I have been associated with, were Gunslingers of the highest order and they were plaintiff's lawyers. They were not of the "all of those lovely billable hours" corporate shills stripes.

Posted by: berttheclock on July 6, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how the tea-baggers are taking this. The very views that got her a victory are theirs and now she doesn't want anyone with any common sense reading about them. Seems like the tea-baggers have a far better copyright claim to the site's "original work" the Angle does.

From Wikipedia:
Copyright is the set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. These rights can be licensed, transferred and/or assigned.

Posted by: ScottW on July 6, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

ScottW, there is a giant exception to Copyright called "fair use." In this context that exception will swallow Angle's exclusive rights.

The issue here is Reid's apparent wimpy response. It reenforces the wide perception that he is a sniviling coward in the face of any opposition. He is face of the "nanny" party.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 6, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The site Reid's folks yanked was MISLEADING, and that was the basis of the C&D letter from the nut-job's lawyer at Foley. It was also - - apparently - - mining email addies. Reid's folks did the right thing in yanking it. I HIGHLY DOUBT we have seen the last of the nut-job's real views. I suspect the next version will clearly ask visitors to provide an email address to keep hearing truth about SA, and the site be called something like "the truth about SA" or "the true beliefs of SA" or "SA exposed"

Posted by: steved on July 6, 2010 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Angle and her legal team are merely trying to privatize the public campaign cycle, as is her wont to privatize everything!

Next up, privatizing public toilets! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on July 6, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

Yes and the fact that Reid backed down is a further demonstration of his spinelessness.

Posted by: getaclue on July 6, 2010 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

Reid's team are idiots, both in the political sphere and the legal sphere. They would only be in violation of copyright law if they claimed ownership of her words or tried to make money off of it: I believe they have an unlimited right to keep previously public material public, especially when there is a clear public interest in having insane positions of insane politicians made public.

They should take the lawsuit, fight it every day, appeal when they lose, have their spokespeople look innocently in the camera and say "we're just re-publishing what she said on her own web site". Do this over and over again. But no. One C&D letter from a certifiably nutjob candidate, and they run away like a bunch of schoolchildren.

Posted by: Rathskeller on July 6, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

It was fair use and in the public interest. Reid is a pussy and so are his lawyers. I want him to beat that shitheaded freak but he'd better toughen up.

Posted by: delver on July 6, 2010 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

the fact that Reid backed down is a further demonstration of his spinelessness.

Could there possibly have been a more weak-ass majority leader in Senate history than Reid? You think Lyndon Johnson would have backed down? When Reid first got the job, he told 60 Minutes that he didn't consider LBJ a good role model as leader. That's when I knew we were well and truly fucked.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on July 6, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Now that everyone has had their chance to toss insults at Sen. Reid, you might want to follow the link to TPM. Once there, click once to the right, go down two or three clicks and then click on the link "Reid reposts...".
You should find it interesting...

Posted by: Doug on July 6, 2010 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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