Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, has a submitted an amicus brief in the Northern District of California, arguing that presidential candidate Ron Paul does not have the right to sue over an unfavorable YouTube video.
Earlier this month, Paul's campaign committee said it was suing the unidentified makers of a video that alleged ex-Republican rival Jon Huntsman was un-American because he adopted daughters from China and India. The filmmakers used the pseudonym NHLiberty4Paul. The video damaged the candidate's reputation, the campaign said.
Public Citizen feels the suit could infringe the First Amendment right to speak anonymously. The brief asks the presiding judge to require Paul to explain why he has valid legal claims and to produce evidence in support of those claims. The amicus brief also argues that trademark law does not allow lawsuits over purely noncommercial political speech. The Paul campaign did not return inquiries seeking comment.
“This complaint is utter nonsense in several respects,” Paul Alan Levy, a Public Citizen attorney who authored the amicus brief, said in a statement. “Legal precedent forbids trademark claims against Internet communications that do not sell or advertise goods or services. Ron Paul's trademark claims also are factually nonsensical because nothing in the video suggests that he sponsors the video.”