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Hockey-loving politician Tim Pawlenty spent two terms as Governor of Minnesota and is now on the campaign trail for the Republican nomination as the 2012 U.S. presidential race heats up.

His latest campaign ad hit the airwaves in Iowa on Thursday and to inspire voters to get on his side, Pawlenty invoked the fighting spirit of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" U.S. hockey team that beat the heavily favored Russians en route to the gold medal.

One problem. You see, the footage of the "Miracle" team is from ABC's coverage of the Lake Placid Olympic Games and apparently the Pawlenty camp didn't get approval for the rights.

From the Des Moines Register:

ABC Sports may slap presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty with a cease-and-desist letter for improperly using its footage in a political advertisement, a company official told The Des Moines Register today.

"It's a violation of our copyright and exclusive proprietary rights," said Louise Argianas, director of rights and clearances for ABC Sports.

The struggling Pawlenty campaign launched "The American Comeback," a television commercial with a down-but-not-out theme, in Iowa on Wednesday.

An ESPN spokesman (ESPN runs ABC Sports) told the Register that they've yet to ask the Pawlenty camp to remove the footage, despite not authorizing its use.

A spokesman for Pawlenty told Talking Points Memo that their advertisements are all looked over by lawyers to make sure copyright laws aren't broken and their belief is that use of the "Miracle" footage "complies with the 'fair use' doctrine."

With struggling poll numbers like these, Pawlenty could use a miracle of his own.

Stick-tap to Puck Buddys for the heads up

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