Could Osama sue the RNC?


Diamond Member
Jul 11, 2004
:scratch: :cow:

by jason notte / metro boston

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NOV 3, 2006

NEW YORK — If security collapses in a Democratic congressional takeover, the star of GOP campaign ads may come collecting.

According to the Republican National Committee, the stakes of the upcoming midterm elections are nothing less than the future of national security.

The stakes of running video images of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to drive that point home, however, are substantially less.

When the RNC launched its “The Stakes” campaign ad featuring images and quotes from al-Qaida leaders, committee spokesman Josh Holmes said it was picked up by the 24-hour news networks and ran 47 times in its first day.

Though the ad featured video images released by al-Qaida, the RNC said it fell within the guidelines of fair use.

“It was all publicly available,” Holmes said. “Some of it may have run on Al Jazeera, but it’s all available publicly.”

Al Jazeera, however, wasn’t so sure. When asked if the network had seen the ad, Al Jazeera spokesman Hashem Said hinted that they had doubts about the footage and its usage.

“We are currently looking into the issue,” he said in a statement.

As for whether or not Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri would be entitled to compensation in the highly unlikely event that they emerge from hiding to sue, theoretically they may have a case.

Entitled to compensation?

New York Media and Entertainment attorney John J. Tormey III says that under the state’s civil rights law, it is a misdemeanor to make unauthorized use of another person’s name, portrait or picture for the purposes of trade or advertising.

Though he hadn’t seen the footage, Tormey said that if the run time for each clip was short enough, then the RNC may have engaged in defensible and lawful “fair use.”

If the RNC’s use of the footage as “trade or advertising” is debatable, the odds of such a suit seeing the light of day are not.

“The likelihood that bin Laden would physically attend his own deposition and allow himself to be cross-examined in person by opposing counsel [the right every defendant would have in such an action], would be slim to none,” Tormey said. “Let’s see Bin Laden step off the plane, clear customs, and then take a cab to his own deposition.”

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