October 15, 2008 | By michael

YouTube Responds to McCain Campaign's Letter

Yesterday, we wrote about the McCain-Palin campaign's letter to YouTube, highlighting how DMCA takedown notices can make online speech disappear from the Internet, even when the claims of infringement plainly lack any merit.

Today, we bring you YouTube's response. YouTube's response points out, much like we did yesterday, that the McCain-Palin campaign's proposed solution (human review of DMCA takedown notices targeting videos posted by political candidates and campaigns) favors speech from one particular class of users. YouTube says that it "tri[es] to be careful not to favor one category of content on [its] site over others, and to treat all of [its] users fairly, regardless of whether they are an individual, a large corporation, or a candidate for public office."

At the end of the day, we agree with YouTube that "[t]he real problem here is individuals and entities that abuse the DMCA takedown process." And we commend YouTube for taking action in some cases where it has identified false takedown notices.

Nonetheless, although YouTube may not be the source of the problem, that doesn't mean it can't do more to be part of the solution. YouTube notes that it can't always be certain whether a video qualifies as fair use, and that it can't know whether the poster has a license to the content. That's all true.

But just because YouTube can't always identify sham takedown notices doesn't mean it can't sometimes know the answer. Using a short excerpt from a news broadcast and commenting on it in a political commercial is clearly fair use. And there are many other examples of clear fair uses, as well.

We'd love to see YouTube take further action, so that takedown notices directed at clearly non-infringing videos can't be used to silence speech. As we said yesterday, stay tuned for more on this topic from us soon.

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