Wow. So earlier today, we wrote about how BMG issued a takedown
on the new web-based ad put out by the Romney campaign, which included a brief clip of President Obama singing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." As we argued, this use seemed to be pretty clearly "fair use." And, of course, it was noteworthy that BMG only seemed to go after the Romney ad, making it pretty clear that this was politically motivated. The original clips of Obama singing Al Green were all over YouTube... and BMG only chose to go after the one used in a Romney commercial. It appears that someone pointed out to BMG's lawyers that this looks really bad
, so rather than backing down, BMG has doubled down
and issued takedowns to a bunch of the original videos of Obama singing that one line from Al Green. Here's one that shows BMG issued the takedown
The original one that we linked to was actually from the Associated Press, who -- as a news organization -- has an even stronger fair use claim. But that video is missing as well
, though it has a slightly different message on the site now:
That's... weird, because the video was absolutely available just this morning. Has the Associated Press really decided to block that video in the US? Seems... strange. Why would the AP allow itself to be bullied like that? Because I'm curious about these things, I hopped on my handy dandy VPN system and magically transported my connection to Canada... where the video came back. Magic. So, it's not entirely clear what's going on here, but if you're in the US (and not using a VPN) it appears that these clips of Obama singing Al Green are quickly disappearing from the web, despite clear fair use claims. The entire thing is 9 seconds
and there's no way that anyone could make a reasonable claim that this use takes away from the original work or somehow acts as a substitute.
And, of course, in true Streisand Effect manner, all this is doing is calling a lot more attention to the video... and BMG's ridiculous censorious response to the situation.
: And... as Michael Weinberg
points out, BMG appears to only be targeting President Obama singing Al Green. There are tons of other clips
of Al Green singing the song himself or others singing the song. All left up. Hmm...