John McCain's presidential campaign is protesting YouTube's video-removal policy, which has resulted in the deletion of some political advertisements the campaign believes are perfectly legal and protected by fair use.
In a letter (PDF) sent to YouTube CEO Chad Hurley and company attorneys on Monday, the campaign charges that "our advertisements or Web videos have been the subject of DMCA takedown notices regarding uses that are clearly privileged under the fair use doctrine." The DMCA is, of course, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allows copyright holders to submit takedown notices.
The letter cited "numerous" examples, without listing them. One would likely be CBS News' successful DMCA takedown request to YouTube over the McCain campaign's lipstick-on-a-pig ad. It used a brief video clip featuring CBS News anchor Katie Couric to make a point about sexism. (Disclaimer: CNET is published by CBS Networks, home of CBS News.)
Then there was the related flap last fall about Fox News complaining about McCain using a video clip from a Fox News-sponsored debate.
Legally speaking, McCain can't force the Google-owned video site to host his videos; among other things, the terms of service says "YouTube reserves the right to discontinue any aspect of the YouTube Web site at any time."
But more broadly, the campaign has a point; YouTube seems a bit too eager to remove political videos. The McCain camp's solution is to ask for a "full legal review" of videos posted by political candidates and campaigns before they're automatically removed. Another solution? If you don't like the neighborhood, move. Nobody's forcing them to stick with YouTube.