Berkeley nonprofit wants anti-Obama ad pulled

The Berkeley-based nonprofit Free History Project has sent a cease-and-desist letter to a right-wing political group which used footage from one of the project’s documentaries in a new ad that tries to tie Barack Obama to 1960s-era radical William Ayers.

The letter demands that all broadcasts of the American Issues Project ad, now running in Michigan and Ohio, be halted as a violation of copyright law.

San Francisco attorney John Keker wrote the ad’s producers have “willfully violated the Free History Project’s intellectual property rights,” and demanded that they “immediately remove the advertisement from any television, cable network, or other media outlet where it is currently running” and “remove the ad from the American Issues Project’s web site.” He’s also formally notifying Michigan and Ohio television stations about the alleged copyright violation.

The footage came from the Free History Project’s 2002 documentary “The Weather Underground,” tells the story of the radical group of the same name founded by William Ayers which hoped to overthrow the U.S. government during the late 1960’s and 70’s.

“We were shocked and dismayed to see that material from our film was taken and used in this manner,” film director Sam Green said in a news release. “Our goal in making The Weather Underground was to produce an even-handed and fair account of a turbulent period in American history. We would never authorize anyone to make use of the film for the purposes of divisive partisan politics.”

The American Issues Project has already written back to Keker insisting its use of the footage constitutes fair use of publicly available material, so I’m guessing there’s a lawsuit in the offing here.

AIP last week had announced a $2.8 million ad buy to air this spot; turns out that money came from Texas billionaire Harold Simmons, who’d helped bankroll the now-notorious “swift boat” attacks against John Kerry in 2004. As for the organization itself, board member Ed Failor Jr. was a paid consultant for John McCain’s campaign in Iowa last year, but an AIP spokesman now claims Failor isn’t connected with the McCain campaign any longer.

Ayers was a young putz who thought violence was an acceptable substitute for political discourse, and is now an old putz who can’t admit he was a young putz.

And as for Ayers and Obama — well, USA Today has a roundup:

• In 1995, Ayers hosted a brunch for Obama, who was running for the Illinois Senate. The ad says this meeting launched Obama’s political career. Quentin Young, a physician who was there, says it was a typical Hyde Park event and to imply otherwise is “guilt by simultaneously being in the same place.”

• In 1997, they were on a juvenile justice panel sponsored by the University of Chicago. They were on a 2002 panel on intellectualism that was co-sponsored by the Chicago Public Library.

• In 1997, the Chicago Tribune published a blurb from Obama about books he was reading. Obama said he was reading Ayers’ A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court.

• From 1999-2002, both men were on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago foundation that makes grants to arts and civic groups. Obama left the board in 2002; Ayers remains on it. Laura Washington, chairwoman of the Woods Fund board, says suggestions of close ties are “an attempt to demonize Bill as a way of damaging Barack Obama.”

• Ayers gave $200 to Obama’s 2001 state Senate campaign.

So — they brunched once 13 years ago; they engaged in two panel discussions; Obama read Ayers’ book; they backed the same nonprofit; and Ayers gave Obama $200 seven years ago.

Wow, now I see it: they’re practically brothers! Surely Obama intends to name Ayers to his cabinet.

UPDATE @ 1:52 P.M.: My apologies to the commenters: Yes, I did forget to mention the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a school-reform nonprofit which Ayers helped found and which Obama chaired in the latter half of the ’90s. The CAC’s board was a who’s who of prominent Chicagoans reportedly including Susan Crown, Vice President of the Henry Crown Company; Patricia A. Graham, President of The Spencer Foundation; Stanley Ikenberry, President-emeritus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Handy Lindsey, Executive Director of the Field Foundation; Arnold Weber, former President of Northwestern University and then President of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago; and Wanda White, Executive Director of the Community Workshop on Economic Development.

My point is not that Ayers’ behavior as a violent radical was acceptable; he was a dangerous thug, and now he’s an unrepentent relic of an insane ideology. But this continued, strenuous effort to paint him as a patron or mentor to Obama seems absurd; so they moved in the same Chicago political circles, big deal — so did dozens of other prominent people. Trying to fix public schools together doesn’t mean one accepted the other’s entire ideology.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • yarrrrr

    There’s also the Chicago Annenberg Challenge…

  • Global Burden

    Yup, just a young putz who actually made and exploded bombs. Just another form of “thinking.” Heck, in the liberal mind what’s the difference.

  • Steve Henderson

    I think you forgot to mention the several years they spent working together for the Annenberg Chicago Challenge. Obama was the Chairman of the Board and Ayers was the founder. Together, they spent many years, spending over $90,000,000.00, in an effort to improve Chicago’s public schools — an effort that was a self-admitted failure.

  • Reporters should do research. Places to begin.

    – “No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen” by Dinitia Smith, New York Times, Sept. 11, 2001
    – “The Way We Live Now: 9-16-01: Questions for Bill Ayers; Forever Rad” by Hope Reeves, New York Times Magazine, Sept. 16, 2001
    – “Obama once visited ’60s radicals” by Ben Smith, Politico, Feb. 22, 2008. Not just a “visit,” as the article makes clear.
    – “Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn” in “The Company He Keeps” by Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review Online, April 11, 2008
    – “Obama’s Real Bill Ayers Problem: The ex-Weatherman is now a radical educator with influence” by Sol Stern, City Journal, April 23, 2008
    – “Underground links likely to resurface for Obama” by John Kass, Chicago Tribune, April 23, 2008. The “Broadway Baby” affair.
    -“Ayres and Obama: It’s Not the Crime, It’s the CoverUp” by Clarice Feldman, American Thinker, April 28, 2008. Chicago Annenberg Challenge.
    – “Chicago Annenberg Challenge Shutdown” by Stanley Kurtz, National Review Online, August 18, 2004. The records are being opened now, after a delay.
    – “Behind the Annenberg Gate: Inside the Chicago Annenberg Challenge Records” by Steve Diamond, Global Labor and Politics, August 20, 2008
    – “Obama’s Lost Annenberg Years Coming to Light” by Thomas Lifson, American Thinker, August 21, 2008

  • Nick in Virginia

    What about the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, started by Ayers and for which Obama spent several years as Chairman? By not referring to it, USA Today makes it look like it is trying to cover for Obama.

    Not that I would expect the MSM to sugar-coat the facts for a Democrat, of course, ESPECIALLY in Chicago.

  • Joe Dozer

    The America hating Marxist-Progressives will do anything to destroy free speech and the 1st Amendment whenever one of their sissies is outed.

  • Adam Sparks

    Nice try Hussein Obama, having your flacks pull the ad. Fat chance. You have had heard of the First Amendment haven’t you? As far as the weak claim to copyright, that’s a joke Obambi. YOu are a Constitutional Scholar right? YOu’ve heard of the “fair use” doctrine right. You’re a loser. Answer the charges or shutup! You’re annoying.

  • Lee Chen

    Wow, that is sure a lot of “passing in the night” for it not to matter. The more you listed things the funnier it got, and oh yeah there was that silly Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which Bill Ayers runs and he worked closely with Obama for several years, but come on, they barely knew each other! Just like he missed the one day Pastor Wright said
    God Damn America, in church after attending for 20 years.
    I mean Gosh, just because Pastor Wright had that sermon online to download on the website and freely expressed his thoughts where ever he went… I am sure Obama had
    no idea he was so harsh on our country…
    I just hate those right wingers who keep diggin up stuff, they are so nasty.

  • Robert Miami

    The only reason Ayers is not in prison is because of his rich father’s connections. I remember when Ayers and his terrorist wife, Bernardine Dohrn, were making bombs and blowing up buildings…with the end result being that some police and some of their own buddies were killed. I don’t want to forget that there were American citizens who wanted to bomb the capital. Why would I? Why would anyone?
    Sure…a lot of others in Chicago hang out with Ayers, but OBAMA is the one running for president. Wake up.

  • Josh Richman
  • Robert Miami

    Just as the violation of his constitutional rights was despicable….his own actions that led him there were just as despicable…

    His father’s wealth and position were also instrumental in his skating….and aided his ability to insinuate himself back into his previous existence with minor inconvenience.
    You shrug it off as “old relic” behavior. I remember it as it happened. It did matter….and it still matters and nothing changes that. Trust me on this, Josh…Obama trying to blow this off will blow up his campaign. He needs to seriously deal with it. Honestly…publicly.

  • Theo

    looks like the freaks from Free Republic made their way over here

    didn’t realize that they could read