Quick ruling unlikely in Fox News suit against Carnahan

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A Fox News Network lawsuit against Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Robin Carnahan apparently won't be considered by a federal judge until well after the election.

The judge Tuesday gave the parties until Nov. 26 to submit scheduling proposals for the lawsuit, which alleges copyright infringement by a Carnahan campaign commercial.

Carnahan, a Democrat who is Missouri's secretary of state, faces Republican U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt in a Nov. 2 election to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Kit Bond.

Carnahan's campaign had asked shortly after the lawsuit was filed last month that the case be expedited, but Fox News has opposed an accelerated schedule.

The TV ad at issue no longer is running.

It showed a clip from a January 2006 interview of Blunt in which Fox News journalist Christopher Wallace cites some of Blunt's past actions and questions whether he is the right person to clean up ethical issues in the U.S. House. The ad does not show Blunt's response.

The lawsuit alleges copyright infringement and the misuse of Wallace's image.

Carnahan's attorneys filed court papers last week urging that the copyright claim be dismissed because it was filed prematurely. They contend the Fox News application for copyright protection of the 2006 broadcast was not officially completed until Sept. 20 -- five days after the lawsuit was filed.

"If this case proceeds, it could place the court and parties in the unusual situation of litigating a lawsuit never properly initiated as to broadcasts of a political advertisement that have already terminated," St. Louis attorney Matthew Braunel said in the court filing on behalf of Carnahan.

A Kansas City attorney representing Fox News did not immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.

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