Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

WFSU-TV station says Crist can't use Rubio clip on campaign site

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist's use of a video clip of U.S. Senate rival Marco Rubio prompted a state-run TV station to accuse Crist of a copyright law violation, and the video of Rubio has vanished from Crist's campaign Web site.

In its place is a black screen and the message: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Florida State University dba WFSU-TV."

The state-funded Tallahassee public TV station says the Crist campaign violated a well-known law that bars use of its video for political purposes. The Crist campaign says the station engaged in censorship to the detriment of Florida voters, and that use of the Rubio footage falls under an exemption from copyright law known as "fair use."

WFSU is licensed to Florida State — Crist's alma mater — and operates the Florida Channel, which provides round-the-clock coverage of the Legislature and state government. On March 13, 2008, then-House Speaker Rubio appeared on WFSU's Florida Face to Face, a weekly newsmaker program, and discussed his views on climate change, including a fossil-fuel tax proposal known as cap and trade.

"I'm in favor of giving the Department of Environmental Protection a mandate that they go out and design a federal cap-and-trade program, a carbon tax program," Rubio said.

Crist's Web site produced ads titled "Rubio Flip Flop" and "Rubio Cap and Trade." The Rubio campaign called it a "slicing and dicing" of Rubio's words, and the full interview shows that Rubio felt a federal cap-and-trade law was inevitable and that the state should be ready to implement it, subject to legislative approval.

But the strongest reaction came from WFSU, which demanded that the video come down immediately.

The station cited a state law that makes it a second-degree misdemeanor for anyone to use the "facilities, plant or personnel of any educational television system … for the promotion, advertisement or advancement of any political candidate."

"That material, in our view, belongs to us, and they did not have permission to use it," WFSU general manager Patrick Keating said.

Discussions with lawyers quickly ensued, Keating said. On Thursday, he filed an online copyright infringement complaint with YouTube, where the video of Rubio was linked to "YouTube took action. They stopped the video from playing," Keating said.

Ben Ginsberg, a Washington attorney who represents Crist, said the Rubio video should be permitted in a political campaign.

"This is a nonprofit political campaign engaging in political speech — the highest form of protected speech under the First Amendment," Ginsberg said. "The Florida Channel has censored the exchange of information between two political candidates."

Ginsberg said Keating should read the law closer, because it also says that "fair, open and free discussion between political candidates … may be permitted … to ensure that the state's citizens are fully informed about issues and candidates in campaigns."

Keating said the law is designed to prevent WFSU's video from being used for political advantage. "I'm just trying to protect our product and live up to the terms of our agreement with the Legislature," he said.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at or (850) 224-7263.

WFSU-TV station says Crist can't use Rubio clip on campaign site 01/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 22, 2010 10:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Plan your weekend July 28-30: Comic Con, Lady Antebellum, Margarita Wars, Tampa's Fourth Friday


    Plan your weekend

    Geek out

    Tampa Bay Comic Con: The fan convention returns to the Tampa Convention Center this weekend, bringing actors Val Kilmer, Kate Beckinsale, Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Lt. Uhura), Khary Payton (Ezekiel in The Walking Dead) and the …

    Ibri Day poses for a photo at opening day of the 2015 Tampa Bay Comic Con at the Tampa Convention Center. (Friday, July 31, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Editorial: Trump assaults rule of law by attacking attorney general


    Jeff Sessions was a terrible choice for attorney general, and the policies he has pursued in his brief tenure — cracking down on immigrants, bullying sheriffs, prosecuting low-level offenders to the max — are counterproductive. But the stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Sessions this …

    The stinging personal attacks President Donald Trump leveled at Attorney General Jess Sessions this week assault the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law.
  3. Iowa group sues United over death of giant rabbit, Simon


    DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of Iowa businessmen filed a lawsuit Wednesday against United Airlines over the death of Simon, a giant rabbit whose lifeless body was discovered in a kennel after a flight from London to Chicago.

    In this May 8, 2017 file photo, attorney Guy Cook speaks a news conference while looking at a photo of Simon, a giant rabbit that died after flying from the United Kingdom to Chicago, in Des Moines, Iowa. A group of Iowa businessmen have filed a lawsuit against United Airlines over the death of Simon. The businessmen filed the lawsuit Wednesday, July 26, 2017, more than three months after airline workers found the continental rabbit named Simon dead. [AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall]
  4. Elderly Brooksville woman dies in Wednesday crash


    BROOKSVILLE — An 87-year-old woman died following a Wednesday morning car crash, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. As Dow hits new high, Raymond James Financial reports record financial gains


    On the same day that the Dow closed at new highs, investment firm Raymond James Financial reported record revenues and earnings for its fiscal third quarter that ended June 30.

    Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly unveiled record quarterly revenues and earnings for the St. Petersburg-based investment firm. [Courtesy of Raymond James Financial]