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President or Pirate? The DMCA Takedown War of the Presidential Campaigns

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 | Posted by Lizbeth Hasse, Esq. | Labels: , , ,

In what has been described by some as over-zealous enforcement of copyright, BMG (the large German publisher) forced YouTube to take down a Mitt Romney campaign video because it included footage of President Obama singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

The Romney video followed the Obama campaign’s release of a political ad featuring Mitt Romney’s off-key rendition of “America the Beautiful" as underscored to images of off-shore employment out-sourcing. Romney’s campaign used the Al Green song to attack Obama for his relationship with lobbyists and campaign fundraisers. YouTube pulled down the Romney ad after BMG, the music publisher that owns the copyright in the “Let’s Stay Together” composition, filed a copyright takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Not wanting to look like it was playing politics and only targeting the Romney ads, BMG also sent notices to YouTube to take down the original news footage clips of Obama singing the song.[1] The Obama campaign met no similar copyright opposition to its attack ad because the copyright to “America the Beautiful,” first released in 1910, has expired and that musical composition is now in the public domain.


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