Senatorial Pursuit – Copyright Infringement Edition

Senatorial Pursuit – Copyright Infringement Edition

Tiffany Wong is a JD Candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School

Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, is struggling in his bid for re-election against Sharron Angle, a Republican endorsed by the Tea Party Express. Alongside the usual political mudslinging, the two are also embroiled in an intellectual property battle.

Angle once had a campaign website featuring hard-line stances on a variety of issues including healthcare reform, energy policy, taxation, national security, and same-sex marriage. She then sought to rebrand herself in order to broaden her appeal, by retooling her website and removing the more inflammatory materials in the process.

Reid countered by reposting her former campaign website under a new URL,, and Angle threatened to retaliate by suing him for copyright infringement. The site remains up, and Reid is claiming freedom of speech and a fair use defence based on political commentary and parody: “it’s called free speech and it’s nearly absolute under the First Amendment.”

Ironically, Angle was then hit with a suit by Righthaven LLC, a copyright enforcement company, for posting entire articles from the Las Vegas Review Journal allegedly without authorization. According to Politico, the claimant is seeking both statutory damages and the forfeiture of her domain name: It remains to be seen what defences Angle chooses to marshal, and what effect her actions against Reid will have on their viability. In a future post, I will present a follow-up, and discuss how these facts might hypothetically be analyzed from a Canadian legal perspective.