The House-based Republican Study Committee on Thursday backed off its attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — in which it suggested she had violated C-SPAN's copyright — after learning it had its facts wrong.
"This is yet another baseless attack by the Republicans. It's another desperate attempt to avoid focusing on the real issues that affect the American people," Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said after the retraction.
The error occurred early in the afternoon, when the RSC distributed a press release criticizing the speaker for using House floor speech footage on her Web log, The Gavel, that had been taped off C-SPAN and distributed on YouTube. C-SPAN is a private, non-profit company that airs footage of the House and Senate activities, including all floor sessions.
"The blog violated copyright and trademark law on the very first day. Not once, not twice, but 16 times," read the release. "The RSC spoke with C-SPAN today, who confirmed that these videos violate C-SPAN copyright/trademark of the House proceedings.
"In addition to using pirated material, Speaker Pelosi also has used the pirated C-SPAN footage for partisan purposes," the release read. It also added that earlier this year, Pelosi had denied a C-SPAN request to use its own cameras for floor proceedings on the grounds that it didn't preserve the "the dignity and decorum" of the House.
"Is the dignity and decorum of the House preserved by pirating copyrighted C-SPAN material for political purposes?" the release asked.
But a couple hours later, the RSC sent out a second release saying it wanted to correct its error.
The earlier release "was based upon a conversation that RSC staff had with Barry Katz, the Manager of C-SPAN video assets. ... Bruce Collins, the corporate vice president and general counsel of C-SPAN, called post-release and said that the information provided by the C-SPAN employee to the RSC was incorrect," reads the second statement.
"Given this contradictory information, the RSC wanted to be the first set the record straight and withdraw the information included in the release," the correction stated.
Prior to the error being announced, RSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring told FOX News the committee had been told that C-SPAN's copyright law had been violated because Pelosi had used the C-SPAN logo on her site. He said raw footage is available through an internal House feed to all members.
"We applaud (Pelosi's) efforts to get video on her Web site ... we can't applaud her breaking the law," he said.
He added that several congressional members had called his office after the initial release to determine whether they too had violated the law, but none of the sites he checked out had used C-SPAN's logo.
Daly said Pelosi's office had checked out the legality of using the footage before it was posted.
"Our legal counsel and C-SPAN's legal counsel have each independently determined that C-SPAN video posted on the speaker's blog is in the public domain and does not violate copyright law," he said.