Music publisher uses DMCA to take down Romney ad of Obama crooning

The incident highlights how the DMCA can hinder free speech.

A YouTube video produced by the Romney for President campaign got hit by a takedown request on Monday, highlighting the challenges that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act can pose for free speech.

For days, President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have been trading barbs over Romney’s role in layoffs initiated by Bain Capital a decade ago. Obama’s latest salvo, released over the weekend, was an ad featuring Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful” over images of shuttered American factories. The Romney campaign responded in kind, posting an ad that shows Pres. Obama singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” juxtaposed with “headlines about Obama rewarding lobbyists and campaign donors.”

But as the Huffintgon Post notes, if you try to watch the Romney campaign’s ad, you’ll be greeted with a message that says “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by BMG_Rights_Management.”


Neutering fair use: The Romney ad seems like as clear-cut a case of fair use as can be imagined. Obama’s singing is a core part of the ad’s message, and copyright law explicitly mentions commentary and criticism as justifications for fair use. And it’s hard to imagine the ad harming the market for “Let’s Stay Together.”

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