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C-SPAN Squelches Dodd's D-SPAN

The public affairs network that political and government junkies couldn't live without -- C-SPAN -- has put a stop to a Democratic presidential candidate's rip-off of the C-SPAN logo for a new video Web TV feature.

In the lower right-hand corner of Sen. Chris Dodd's (Conn.) campaign Web site, you'll find a plug for DTV "coming soon...LIVE VIDEO and highlights from the campaign trail."

DTV is not the campaign's first choice.

"Last week, it said D-SPAN coming soon," explains Bruce Collins, vice president and general counsel of C-SPAN.

Collins made a phone call to the Dodd campaign to explain that perhaps the candidate would like to choose another name for his new video feature if, say, he wanted to avoid litigation. He followed up, per the Dodd campaign's request, with a letter to Dodd's lawyers explaining that C-SPAN and D-SPAN are "confusingly similar" and "too close for comfort."

But was C-SPAN at least flattered by Dodd's copycat video? Not so much.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of infringement," Collins quipped. (Collins is sort of the Terminator of C-SPAN. He's come down hard on several states' attempts to imitate the network's model, including, among others, CAL-SPAN in California, M-SPAN in Michigan and T-SPAN in Tennessee. All wound up changing the proposed names of their public affairs networks.)

And no doubt, the meticulously nonpartisan C-SPAN wanted to be as far away as possible from a political campaign. (Cue scene of Brian Lamb fainting from being charged with political bias.)

A Dodd lawyer who responded to Collins dug in his heels and said the campaign was really keen on using D-SPAN. Collins wasn't pleased and ended the conversation unsure of what would happen.

But whatever Collins said worked. Because the next time he checked the Dodd campaign Web site, D-SPAN had been changed to DTV. Collins therefore remains undefeated in his war on "SPAN-jacking" (if only we had someone in charge of keeping the latest scandal from getting "-GATE" tacked to the end...).

Dodd campaign spokeswoman Christy Setzer joked, "Sure, we'll miss D-SPAN. But we were even sadder to have to reject DNN and DSNBC."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 14, 2007; 4:09 PM ET
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