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McCain-YouTube flap shows it's time to reform DMCA

Now that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has personally endorsed Barack Obama, the McCain campaign's gripes about YouTube taking down their web ads have a new currency. McCain spokesman Mike Goldfarb hinted that the take-down was related to Schmidt's endorsement: "It may be that there is some political bias involved."

Now that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has personally endorsed Barack Obama, the McCain campaign's gripes about YouTube taking down their web ads have new currency.

You may recall that McCain general counsel Trevor Potter informed YouTube that an ad that featured CBS's Katie Couric (disclosure: CBS owns ZDNet) did not violate copyright, as CBS claimed, because of fair use. Potter asked YouTube to consider reviewing take-down notices related to political videos and YouTube declined.

In an NPR piece this morning, McCain spokesman Mike Goldfarb hinted that the take-down was related to Schmidt's endorsement:

It may be that there is some political bias involved.
The fact is that Google takes down every video it gets a take-down notice on. Every one does. That's what the DMCA – strongly supported by John McCain, by the way – forces sites to do. And it is out of control. NPR's story included the tale of Jeff Rosenstock, a musician with his own donation-based record label, Quote Unquote Records. He says his ISP shut down his site because it perceived he was violating copyright. He spent a week satisfying to IX Web Hosting's satisfaction that he owned the copyright to the songs. That's because he never registered with the Copyright Office.

Meanwhile public interest groups see a way to drive home the abuses of the current DMCA regime. On Monday, the EFF and ALCU among other groups sent a letter to the networks, asking them to stop sending take-down notices, and a letter to YouTube, asking for them to pay special attention to the legitimacy of take-down claims on political content. (Via News.com.)

And on Nov. 5, I hope Sen. McCain will get to work on reforming DMCA so fair-use video isn't taken down by default.