For years, we’ve warned about the dangers of copyright takedown notices and how tough copyright laws can be used as a tool for censorship. Now, censorship by copyright has reached a political level in the US with a DMCA notice being used to censor the Mitt Romney political campaign.
Censorship by copyright isn’t anything new. In fact, we’ve seen a number of high profile examples of this in the last two years alone. Just last month, Universal Music Group used a clearly wrongly target an independent band known as In-Flight Safety multiple times on YouTube.
Around the same time, copyright was also used to censor criticism of the Embridge Pipeline being pushed in Canada.
Back in April, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association) pressured website WUpload to censor my own music as well as several others in the process over copyright related concerns.
Going back even further to January, copyright was also used to censor me as well as numerous other users when authorities shut down MegaUpload.
Last year, the DMCA was used to censor bad reviews of doctors as well.
That’s just the tip of a very large iceberg in a long and brutal history of copyright being used as a tool for censorship.
Now, copyright, namely the DMCA, is being used to censor a political ad by the Mitt Romney campaign. Mitt Romney is a presidential hopeful for the Republican party in the next US general election.
The ordeal apparently started when people from the Obama campaign created a political ad where Mitt Romney sang “America the Beautiful” and showed pictures of closed down American factories. People from the Mitt Romney campaign apparently responded with an ad with Obama singing “Let’s Stay Together” while showing pictures of articles with headlines detailing Obama rewarding lobbyists. Ars Technica reports that this is what happened next on YouTube:
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.”
Now, I don’t care what political stripe you are, but this is yet another example on how the DMCA can be abused. Whether or not you agree with Mitt Romney on issues like this is beside the point. I would be surprised if there wasn’t a clear case for Fair Use here. Yet, rights holders are using copyright to shut down free speech anyway as if rights were being infringed in the first place. It’s sad that this sort of thing isn’t really anything new, but it is interesting that it has now happens to such a high profile politician to begin with.