While Trump Continues To Complain About 230, It's Copyright Law That Once Again Actually Gets His Content Removed
from the why-is-no-one-looking-at-fixing-copyright? dept
Once again this week, the President decided to attack Section 230 because social media companies decided to highlight that he was posting dangerous misinformation (this time about the relative dangers of COVID-19, which he was downplaying). Yet, for reasons I do not understand, the President never seems to address copyright law, even though that law is what is actually forcing his and his campaign’s content to be legally removed from social media.
Over the last few months we’ve highlighted multiple times that Trump and his campaign have had posts removed from social media due to DMCA 512 takedown notices. And it happened again this week after Twitter removed a tweet from the Trump campaign on copyright grounds.
The tweet in question made use of a video clip showing the San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk scoring a touchdown from last Sunday’s 49ers/Eagles game. The clip (somewhat ridiculously) superimposed Trump’s head over Aiyuks, and put the well known graphic of the coronavirus on Eagle’s defender Marcus Epps (whom Aiyuk leapt over in getting to the end zone). The message of the video (stupidly) is that Trump was somehow able to “avoid” the coronavirus (which, I should remind you, he did not). The video is stupid on multiple levels, including the the sickening and despicable implication that those who died from COVID-19 are somehow just not strong enough.
However, I think there’s a pretty strong argument that the video would be protected as fair use — and that the takedown issued by the copyright holder (likely the NFL) was not a legitimate takedown. In fact, it’s possible that the NFL issued the takedown for political reasons, as there’s no argument that this somehow harmed the NFL directly. It’s a short clip. It’s used in a transformative (if stupid) way.
In other words, this is an actual example of the law being used for censorship. Unlike Section 230. And yet, we don’t see Trump or his supporters calling for that aspect of copyright law to be fixed. Indeed, copyright law is even worse, because if the Trump campaign keeps getting copyright strikes like this, the law says that Twitter must shut down his account for repeat infringements. Will Trump and his supporters finally see that the real problem for censorship is copyright?
Instead they’re asking to take away Section 230, which (at best) would create a situation more like copyright in which the legal incentive is much stronger towards pulling down such content. It remains incredible to me that in all of these discussions about social media and “censorship” everyone is focused on the law that protects speech online, rather than the law that forces websites to pull down legal content.