YouTube Decides Obama Singing Al Green Is Fair Use; Restores All The Videos
from the your-move,-BMG dept
Earlier this week, we wrote about BMG issuing a takedown to YouTube over a Mitt Romney advertisement that used a clip of President Obama singing one line of an Al Green song. As we noted at the time, this seemed like a clear fair use case. Also, people pointed out that it was clearly an attempt to stifle speech since BMG only went after the Romney commercial, and not the original clips of Obama singing. Realizing this, BMG then also issued takedowns for those videos. If YouTube wanted to retain its DMCA safe harbor provisions, it is supposed to keep those videos down for 10 days and then it could (but does not need to) restore them. However, Google has jumped the gun and restored the videos already (you can see it here), saying that the company made a determination that the content does not violate copyright laws.
At this point, the ball is back in BMG’s court. Technically, it can now file a lawsuit against the uploaders of the video if it wants (so, the Romney campaign, the Associated Press and others). Also, it could potentially try to go after Google itself, claiming that the safe harbors no longer apply due to the early reposting. Of course, one would hope that BMG realizes that pursuing any of these strategies would lead to ridicule and, quite possibly, a court issued rebuke for wasting their time with a bogus copyright claim. Unfortunately, for reasons that remain a mystery to me, when it comes to copyright claims, many copyright holders fail to recognize this kind of likely outcome ahead of time.