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Independent filmmakers Dawn Lambing and Tara Bissett have accused the Campaign for Democracy, a PAC created by California Governor Gavin Newsom, of plagiarizing their short film “Roed” in its new ad about abortion access. While there are some differences between the two works, the filmmakers claim that the ad is a “direct recreation” of their film and have requested to be credited. A spokeswoman for the Campaign for Democracy denied the plagiarism allegations, stating that any similarities between the ad and the film were unintentional and that their ad was based on a “common trope.”

Independent Filmmakers accuse Political Ad of Plagiarism

Independent producers Dawn Lambing and Tara Bissett have accused the Campaign for Democracy, a PAC initiated by Governor Gavin Newsom, Democrat of California, of copying their 2023 short film “Roed” in their new ad on abortion access.

The duo sent a letter to Newsom last Thursday obtained by The New York Times, requesting recognition in the group’s ad named “Fugitive“, which premiered in Alabama on Monday.

While they support the governor’s opposition to harsh abortion restrictions, the filmmakers wrote that the entire ad is a clear imitation of their work. They expressed disappointment over the lack of acknowledgement or permission sought prior to replication.

Lindsey Cobia, spokesperson for the Campaign for Democracy, stated on Saturday that the similarities between the ad and the movie were unintentional, and the concept of the ad was independently created.

Despite some differences between the 30-second PAC ad and the 10-minute film, the uncanny resemblances between the two have upset the creators of “Roed”.

The ad is being aired for two weeks on broadcast, cable television and online in Alabama, where Republicans are advocating for prosecution of women seeking abortion services outside the state. The state’s strict abortion ban prohibits the procedure at all stages of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

The filmmakers worry that the resemblance between their film and the ad threatens the perceived authenticity and integrity of their work. “Roed” won best short film at last year’s ACTRA Montreal Short Film Festival and will be shown later this spring at the Brooklyn Film Festival.

Newsom has emerged as a key advocate for President Biden and routinely debates with Republican governors, Republican-led states, and conservative news media over abortion access, immigration, crime, and other issues.

Last month, Republicans introduced a bill in the Alabama legislature that would criminalize assisting a minor to seek abortion services. As part of the ongoing abortion debate, Alabama’s Attorney General, Steve Marshall, has also sparred with the Justice Department and abortion aid providers on the state’s prosecution authority.

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