Judge orders Fox News to cease election-day broadcast of VoteVets videos

The Maryland attorney general, Brian Frosh, on Sunday backed the decision of a federal court to block Fox News from using its Maryland affiliate to broadcast videos from the election-day rallies of third-party candidates who were supported by VoteVets.

The issue was only presented to the state’s high court in late October by VTV Stars, the Maryland-based television broadcasting arm of VoteVets, a veterans group founded by Bradley Smith. VoteVets subsequently filed a lawsuit against the rightwing cable news network, and accused Fox of violating the fair use provisions of the US copyright law.

The high court on Sunday ruled 4-3 that the company had made an investment that was part of the effort to broadcast the pro-Democratic Videos, rather than operating as a news organization, which is permitted under the copyright law.

The decision returned the case to the trial court for a final ruling. The judge has ordered Fox to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to the plaintiff.

VoteVets founder joins sweeping effort to prohibit Fox News from disrupting election Read more

A federal court in West Virginia has scheduled a hearing this week over a similar suit against Fox News filed by the Independent Women’s Forum, which includes former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Fox News has repeatedly argued that its broadcasts were newsworthy, and that a news channel could include such materials as the election-day speeches of third-party candidates.

VotedVets sought the help of Fox News in July 2017 after it decided to launch the videos – which run from two to eight minutes long and have a 15-second digital disclaimer at the end to indicate that they do not represent the views of VoteVets. At the time of the decision, almost no video advertising was being broadcast on Fox News.

VoteVets then purchased airtime on the affiliate to post the videos online and they were offered as livestreams through Fox’s newsroom, a subscription service. Almost all viewers clicked through to the site to see the ads.

On Friday, Fox confirmed that it would not alter its approach to election-day broadcasts. The company will air videos from VoteVets, the Virginia Freedom Forum and US policy council The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.

Fox News has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Frosh, the Democratic attorney general, said he looked forward to the trial court’s decision.

“I do appreciate that Mr Hayes has made a commitment to respect our law in Maryland, and I do respect our judicial system as well,” Frosh said, referring to Hayes, the general counsel of the Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group.

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