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NBC Nixes Bush-Cheney Online Video Clip

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign plans to re-launch an online promotional video clip of President Bush after a dispute with NBC News snarled a similar effort Tuesday.

Using footage from President Bush's Sunday interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent six million e-mails Tuesday afternoon inviting readers to click on a link to hear the president speak on "Responsibility." After NBC objected to use of its footage in the promotion, the campaign disconnected the link.

Bush-Cheney '04 officials told internetnews.com the campaign would send another link to a video clip Wednesday to its subscribers that does not use the NBC footage. According to the Bush-Cheney e-campaign staff, the original video clip was designed to promote the president's new campaign slogan, "Strong Leadership in Times of Change."

The 30-second, approximately 100-word video features an answer from Bush on the human cost of the war in Iraq that uses the word "responsibility" six times.

The Bush-Cheney staff maintained it had the legal right to use the NBC footage, but the network vigorously disagreed.

"While we understand that inclusion of unedited news clips on campaign Web sites is common practice, this is different," NBC said in a statement. "This promotional video is set to music, edited for impact, and mixed with other images, graphics and footage unrelated to the interview."

The network added it "did not, and does not, authorize this misuse of our copyrighted material. We have asked the campaign to cease and desist immediately from the use of our material."

Sharon Castillo of the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign told internetnews,"there was no real legal issue involved whatsoever. We never doubted we could legally use it, but Mr. Russert and NBC objected. To keep good relations, we decided not use it."

Veteran online political strategist Jonah Seiger, a visiting fellow at George Washington University's Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, said the copyright issue was not cut and dried, but the campaign "made a political decision -- and a wise one -- to avoid a legal dispute with NBC."

A Bush-Cheney e-campaign staffer said the video clip was in keeping with the campaign's Web goals of "not raising money, but recruiting volunteers." Before the video was pulled, viewers were offered the common option of sending the link to other viewers.

"We haven't emphasized raising funds," the official said. "The fundamental issue in any campaign is that word-of-mouth is the best way to get a vote. What we're doing is taking person-to-person campaigning and moving it online. In marketing terms, it is viral marketing."

Perhaps the most surprising revelation by the campaign staff is that 78 percent of all visitors to the Bush-Cheney '04 website have broadband connections.

"That's really disproportionately high to the penetration of broadband nationally," Seiger said, who noted the national average is of Americans with high-speed connections is between 15-20 percent.

Telephone inquiries to the Democratic National Committee and to the John Kerry campaign about the percentage of visitors to their sites with broadband connections were not returned.