After a puzzling takedown of a Mitt Romney campaign ad on YouTube by BMG, the video was re-instated after many sources (including us) covered the incident. Still, while the problem seems resolved, many questions remain about the nature of the takedown.
We’d like to follow-up the previous story about BMG taking down an ad put together by Mitt Romney. The video has now been re-instated. Unfortunately, no explanation was given about the nature of this particular takedown. From Arstechnica:
“When we’re notified that a particular video uploaded to our site infringes another’s copyright, we remove the material in accordance with the law,” a YouTube spokeswoman told Ars by email. “We have a counter notification process in place if a user believes a content owner has misidentified their video, and we reinstate content if a user prevails in that process. We also reinstate videos in cases where we are confident that the material is not infringing, or where there is abuse of our copyright tools.”
But in a telephone interview with Ars, the spokeswoman declined to elaborate, at least on the record, about why the videos were taken down and what safeguards are in place to prevent abusive takedown requests in the future. Indeed, she refused to even provide an on-the-record explanation of whether the videos in question had been taken down via a standard DMCA takedown request or with YouTube’s proprietary Content ID system.
Since the video is re-instated, we’ve taken a look at the video ourselves. You can look at it below:
I personally see nothing in the video that should trigger a DMCA takedown. Is it very partisan? Yes. Is it very political? Yes. Is it infringing on anyone’s copyright? Unlikely given the existence of Fair Use in the US. Ars Technica rightfully points out that because a presidential candidate is such a high profile figure, such a takedown would cause enough fuss to get the decision reversed. What other video’s that are uploaded by less well-known people? How can they get the same treatment?
The re-instatement seems to have followed a similar path to to the takedown of Canadian independent artist In-Flight Safety. When it’s really obvious that content wrongfully receives a takedown notice, re-instate it, but refuse to offer up an explanation and simply refer to the notice-and-takedown system as well as the process to have a video re-instated.
I personally was never a fan of this whole process of “shoot first and ask questions later” for copyright. Unfortunately, that’s the copyright system that has been put in place in the US. It is also why we are completely against any three strike law system and even the 6 strike rule regime that was suppose to have rolled out a few weeks ago, but was delayed. It’s one thing to apply a copyright system that is wide open to abuse on a single website, it’s quite another to apply it to every person who uses the Internet in the US. The DMCA fails to take into consideration copyright exceptions and any user rights interests (such as making sure takedown notices are sent to the appropriate target). Any expansion on this without taking into consideration where such a policy could be abused is outright dangerous.