John McCain, who has never previously missed a chance to play up the importance of the DMCA's restrictions on public usage, has suffered a bit at the hands of the DMCA. His ads on YouTube have been the subject of takedown notices from CBS, NBC, and even CBN (the Christian Broadcasting Network). He's now complaining about this to YouTube, writing a letter (PDF) that includes:
[O]verreaching copyright claims have resulted in the removal of non-infringing campaign videos from YouTube, thus silencing political speech. Numerous times during the course of the campaign, our advertisements or web videos have been the subject of DMCA takedown notices regarding uses that are clearly privileged under the fair use doctrine. The uses at issue have been the inclusion of fewer than ten seconds of footage from news broadcasts in campaign ads or videos, as a basis for commentary on the issues presented in the news reports, or on the reports themselves. These are paradigmatic examples of fair use...
Finally, something the McCain campaign and I agree on, 100%. But oh, wait, there's more:
[W]e believe that it would consume few resources--and provide enormous benefit--for YouTube to commit to a full legal review of all takedown notices on videos posted from accounts controlled by (at least) political candidates and campaigns.
Ah, that's more like it - McCain first, country second (perhaps McCain's only reliable principle?). Fred von Lohmann, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, points out:
The obvious problem with this solution? It assumes that YouTube should prioritize the campaigns' fair use rights, rather than those of the rest of us. That seems precisely backwards, since the most exciting new possibilities on YouTube are for amateur political expression by the voters themselves. After all, the campaigns have no trouble getting the same ads out on television and radio, options not available to most YouTubers.
This isn't posturing - think about the most effective political videos you've seen. Were any of them produced by a campaign? I'll bet they weren't. One of the most important political projects to be undertaken in the coming years will be not only to put a halt to - but roll back - IP laws that reach beyond commerce to control political discourse and culture. Think we can count on McCain's help when the time comes?