YouTube campaign videos get pulled over bogus copyright claims with alarming regularity. And now, as we're entering silly season for the US Presidential campaign, it means we'll be seeing more high profile takedowns. Back during the 2008 campaign, the McCain campaign even sent YouTube a letter trying to explain fair use
to the company (seriously), and suggesting that Presidential campaigns should get special treatment to prevent videos from being pulled down. Of course, what might be better is if the Presidential candidates spoke up about how they'd fix
the "shoot first, ask question later" aspect of the DMCA takedown procedures, but no one seems willing to do that yet. Back in the 2008 primaries, Mitt Romney also had to explain fair use
to Fox News, so he should be ready for this issue again.
In fact, he appears to be the first "fair use victim" this time around. Romney's campaign had posted a web video ad on YouTube that included some of the well-known footage
of President Obama singing a single line of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." Apparently, that triggered BMG to issue a takedown
on the Romney ad.
This confuses me. If you look at the original footage of Obama singing, it's a grand total of 9 seconds long. If there ever were a clear-cut case of fair use -- a very brief snippet, used in a political ad -- this would be it.
One hopes that Romney, who spoke out against SOPA
during the primaries, will start to realize that perhaps he should take a stronger stand in favor of digital free speech rights and against copyright excessiveness, now that he's (yet again) a victim of such things. But perhaps that's just wishful thinking.