Activist Groups Push Nets to Keep Political Videos on YouTube

Oct 20, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Public-interest groups are calling on some TV networks to quit making copyright claims that force YouTube to take down pointed videos from presidential candidates and political activists during the last weeks of the campaign.
In letters today to CBS, Fox, NBC Universal, the Christian Broadcast Network and YouTube, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Knowledge and the Stanford Fair Use Project reiterated their position that use of less than 10 seconds of the candidates’ TV appearances in the videos furthers democracy and should be “fair use” and not subject to copyright claims all the time. The letters also asked the networks at least not to make any requests in the campaign’s closing days.
“As we enter the final days of election season, we call on each of your organizations to stop sending notices. … Not only are such notices contrary to law, but they also threaten to silence an exciting new source of political expression,” said the letter, signed by Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Both the public-interest groups and some political campaigns have complained that the four networks have made copyright claims that are too broad, prompting YouTube to remove videos that should remain publicly available.
On Oct. 13, the McCain-Palin campaign complained some of the copyright requests were “overreaching.” The campaign said then the requests have resulted in “the removal of non-infringing campaign videos from YouTube, thus silencing political speech.”
Mr. von Lohmann’s letter today dismissed the networks’ worries that the appearance of their video in clips would make the networks seem partisan.
“We understand your organizations’ desire to be seen as neutral, but given the extremely short nature of the clips at issue and the context in which these clips appear, it is unlikely that anyone would believe the use of the clips by a candidate means that your organizations are somehow supporting the candidate,” said the letter.
The letter to YouTube asked the Web site to more quickly review letters questioning the copyright claims and quickly restore videos when the claims prove unwarranted.


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