A federal judge said Friday that she was leaning toward tossing out conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage’s copyright theft lawsuit against an Islamic lobbying group who used portions of the popular program to solicit donations and call for an advertising boycott of “The Savage Nation.”
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said she would likely let Savage’s attorney submit a revised lawsuit in attempt to keep the case alive, but she found the other side’s arguments “persuasive.”
Savage sued the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, after it posted on its Web site a 4-minute clip of Savage’s two-hour show on Oct. 29 in which the talk show host called the Quran a “book of hate.”
CAIR placed the clip next to an area to make donations and its call to boycott “The Savage Nation” show heard by as many as 8 million listeners a day. The Washington D.C.-based group said it and allied organizations have convinced more than a dozen companies, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., GEICO insurance company and Sprint Nextel Corp., to withhold advertising from the show.
Savage’s attorney Daniel Horowitz argued Friday that CAIR’s use of the clip “was taken for purely commercial purposes and to damage” the show.
“This property is Michael Savage’s and they have to justify why they are taking it,” Horowitz said.
But the judge said she found “persuasive” CAIR’s arguments that free speech protections allowed the organization to use the clip to criticize and comment on Savage’s views even if the content is used for fundraising purposes.
CAIR’s attorney Thomas Burke argued that a federal appeals court validated that position in 1986 when it said the Moral Majority could use Hustler Magazine’s unflattering parody of the religious group’s founder Rev. Jerry Falwell to raise money for a legal fund.
“Michael Savage is just unwilling to accept criticism going the other way,” Burke said outside court. “This lawsuit is about punishing CAIR for criticizing him.”