Olympics ad by pro-Obama super PAC removed over copyright issues

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

Both Republicans and Democrats will be forced to use caution when using footage from Olympic Games—past and present—in political commercials.

An ad paid for by Priorities USA Action, a super PAC supporting President Barack Obama, was pulled from YouTube after the International Olympics Committee said it violated copyright law.

The Priorities USA ad featured footage of Mitt Romney at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and is edited so it appears he is personally welcoming teams from China, India and Burma. The edit is intended to highlight work Romney outsourced to those countries. (Romney was the CEO of the Winter Olympics Organizing Committee from 1999-2002.)

But because it employed copyrighted images of the 2002 Opening Ceremonies, Priorities USA won't be able to air the ad and has removed it from its YouTube page and website. In an email to Yahoo News, a spokeswoman from the International Olympics Committee outlined the guidelines for use of Olympic footage and symbols.

"The IOC does not allow footage of the Olympic Games or an association with the Olympic rings to be used for political purposes, in line with the Olympic Charter," IOC spokeswoman Sandrine Tonge said.

Priorities USA President Bill Burton said the super PAC was "glad" to remove the ad after speaking to the Olympic Committee.

"Once we were assured that Mitt Romney and his allies would be held to the same standard, we were glad to take the ad down from our website," Burton said. "Go Team USA!"

While the Democratic group is the first to be forced to remove an Olympics-themed ad, the precedent could prove to be more of a hindrance to Republicans who see Romney's Olympic record as one of his best selling points. Romney is credited with leading the 2002 Games to success during his tenure on the Organizing Committee.

When the pro-Romney Restore Our Future announced its Olympic ad buy earlier this month, the group pointed to Romney's leadership in the 2002 Games. It is not yet clear what kind of ads Restore Our Future will air during the Games, but it will presumably not contain footage copyrighted from the 2002 Games.

"We haven't released our ad, and we're not characterizing it at all at this time," Brittany Gross, a spokeswoman for Restore Our Future, told Yahoo News. "We're not commenting on that right now."

Groups on both sides have invested millions in ads to run during the Games. Obama's campaign will spend as much as $6.5 million on airtime and Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC, will spend $7.2 million on ads during the same period.