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Political-media alliance to Fox News: Let debate video ring

Nonpartisan group founded to support open distribution for presidential-debate video calls on network to rescind cease-and-desist letter to John McCain's campaign.

The nonpartisan alliance that formed this spring to advocate the open use of presidential-debate footage isn't very happy about Fox News' cease-and-desist letter to Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign over a McCain ad that used footage from a Fox-sponsored debate.

On Thursday, the nameless group announced that it has called on Fox to rescind the letter, as well as related missives to other Republican presidential candidates.

The McCain camp, meanwhile, has continued to air the ads, claiming that using 19 seconds of a 90-minute debate constitutes fair use.

"John McCain deserves praise for taking on Fox and opposing corporations (that) want to be gatekeepers of political speech," representative Adam Green said in a statement that had been issued by the online leftist hub on behalf of the group.

The left-right alliance is helmed by Stanford law professor and copyright reform advocate Larry Lessig, and it counts a host of new-media luminaries among its ranks: Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, Craigslist's Craig Newmark, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, MoveOn founder Eli Pariser, and Redstate co-founders Mike Krempasky and Erick Erickson. In April, shortly after forming, the group issued letters to the Democratic and Republican national headquarters, "calling for presidentia- debate video to be liberated--so that footage could be freely excerpted, shared, blogged, and YouTubed," according to a statement.

Eventually, CNN, ABC, and NBC/MSNBC responded to the initiative, announcing varying degrees of "openness" for debate footage. Fox News and other Fox broadcasting stations have not participated, and some right-leaning members of the open-debate alliance have indicated that they may encourage Republicans to follow the Democrats' lead in shunning the News Corp. division.

"Already, Fox is viewed as a partisan network by the Democrats, who will not use that forum for debates," said Redstate's Erickson. "It would be a shame if the Republicans now shut out Fox altogether from the debate process. Every other news organization has liberated their debate footage, and Fox should either be no different or no longer have the privilege of airing debates."

Fox has not yet responded to the organization's criticism.