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Thursday, October 16, 2008

McCain caught in DMCA flap

YouTube denies special treatment to candidate

Written by Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

Video-sharing site YouTube has declined to give special treatment to Republican presidential candidate John McCain over digital millenium copyright act (DMCA) claims.

In an exchange of letters, the site and McCain's campaign staff engaged in a debate over the controversial law, which requires web sites to take down content which contains copyrighted material at the request of the copyright holder in order. McCain voted to approve the DMCA in 1998.

The issue surrounds campaign videos produced by McCain which contained clips from broadcasts by Fox News. The network contended that McCain was illegally using is copyrighted broadcasts in the advertisements and filed a DMCA claim to have the video clips removed from the internet.

McCain's campaign sent a letter to YouTube asking the site to allow the clips to remain online while it was determined whether the videos constituted fair use, a series of protections which allows individuals to use copyrighted clips under certain circumstances. Earlier this year, US courts decided that copyright holders had the responsibility to consider fair use before filing a DMCA takedown claim.

The campaign contended that because the clips were brief and non-commercial in nature, they fell under the protections of fair use and as such should not be removed. The letter also suggested that the site extend special protections to political campaigns which would allow for a more thorough review before clips could be removed due to a DMCA claim.

YouTube countered in a letter contending that if the site complied with the campaign's request, it could lose the DMCA protections which shield sites from lawsuits. The site also said that, given the amount of video uploads it receives on a regular basis, it could not make special concessions to isolate and protect campaign videos.

"The fact remains that we do not know who uploaded what content in user vid eos, who uploaded the videos or what authorization the uploader may or may not have to use that content," read the letter.

"Moreover, while we agree with you that the US presidential election-related content is invaluable and worthy of the highest level of protection, there is a lot of other content on our global site that our users find to be equally important, including political campaigns from around the world at all levels of government, human rights movements, and other important voices."

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