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YouTube, McCain campaign spar over copyright issues

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  1. Content Restrictions
YouTube has refused requests by Sen. John McCain to review campaign-related videos taken off the Web site because of copyright protests, suggesting…

YouTube has refused requests by Sen. John McCain to review campaign-related videos taken off the Web site because of copyright protests, suggesting that if McCain is unhappy with the current copyright protections he can work on changing the law, according to The American Lawyer.

The McCain campaign, in a letter to YouTube this week, objected to the frequent removal of campaign-related material from the site.

YouTube has taken down several videos in response to requests from those who created the videos and who say they own the copyright. Many of the videos contained news reports from local television stations.

But Trevor Potter, general counsel for the McCain campaign, reportedly said in his letter to YouTube that removing the videos was inappropriate.

“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,” Potter wrote.

Those uses, in Potter’s opinion, are allowed by copyright laws, meaning YouTube should not have taken down the videos. He asked YouTube to conduct a legal review of all requests it receives to take down videos and evaluate whether they are based upon valid copyright claims.

According to The American Lawyer, YouTube’s general counsel, Zahavah Levine, responded by saying such a review was impossible given the number of requests the company receives, the information it has about the videos and the current state of copyright law.

Levine ended her letter to McCain’s campaign by saying YouTube looked forward “to working with Senator (or President) McCain on ways to combat abuse” of the copyright laws. She suggested strengthening the fair use doctrine, which allows limited use of copyrighted material, as one change in the law that would improve the situation.