YouTube & BMG Playing Politics?

Yesterday I put up a post about the new video from the Romney campaign called “Political Payoffs and Middle Class Layoffs.” Today, YouTube pulled the ad at the request of music giant BMG for a copyright violation. The Romney camp has disputed the copyright claiming fair use since the ad was a commentary specifically involving Obama’s use of that song with those words.


For some reason, BMG & YouTube weren’t concerned about this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, this one and this one or dozens of others.

As a test, I uploaded the song to YouTube in its entirety. YouTube has standard practices and arrangements in place to allow some music to be uploaded without repercussion. As you can see, my video (at least at the time of this posting) is intact.


Almost immediately (as I expected) I received this email:

Dear benhoweblog,

Your video “Al Green Lets Stay Together”, may have content that is owned or licensed by Demon Music and Shock Entertainment Pty, but it’s still available on YouTube! In some cases, ads may appear next to it.

This claim is not penalizing your account status. Visit your Copyright Notice page for more details on the policy applied to your video.

– The YouTube Team

So if the song is allowed, what’s the problem? The problem could be the political persuasion of the account holder. Pulling a video for reasons other than copyright (while claiming copyright) is a technique that is often employed to remove something embarrassing for long enough to destroy any buzz around it. I know because it has happened to me. Twice.

The first time was with my video, “The Socialist” which was a parody of the trailer for “The Social Network.” The second was for my video “Chevy Volt: Building a Better Tomorrow“, which parodied a real commercial from GM about the volt. In both cases I won. And in both cases they were pulled right as they were about to go to the next level of viral. How do I know that’s where they were going? Well in the case of “The Socialist” it had been linked at just about every website imaginable when it was pulled and with my Volt spot it was shown on The O’Reilly factor an hour before it was pulled. The claimants likely knew that I would win but simply wished to prevent the video from going any farther.


Meanwhile, this spot which parodies Eminem at Romney’s expense, was never pulled and is enjoying 3.7 million views last I checked.

In all likelihood the copyright claim will be removed from the Romney campaign’s video, but by then the damage will have been done. I had just under 400k views on my Volt video when it went up on the O’Reilly factor and was subsequently pulled. 20 days later (yes, 20) it went back up. It’s still sitting at just under 400k views. That’s because buzz has an attention span of just about zero and the people that claim copyrights for reasons other than copyright, know this.

Are BMG and Youtube playing politics? Your guess is as good as mine. Google (owner of YouTube) on the other hand had so many results at Open Secrets that it couldn’t display them all. That means that, in addition to Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, being a former campaign advisor to President Obama, there are literally thousands of donors at the Google offices sending money to the Obama campaign.

Furthermore, in 2011 the NRSC was denied access to a new advertising and data collection technology that Google allowed the Obama campaign to use:

The new ad program would charge clients for every email address (or other piece of user data) they collect. The program is attractive to campaigns eager for that information, so when a staffer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee saw what appeared to be an Obama ad built on this technology on the RealClearPolitics website last month, she emailed a Google sales rep to ask about creating a similar ad campaign for Republicans. The saleswoman, Sirene Abou-Chakra, replied by suggesting that Obama had a special deal. “This is a pre-alpha product that is being released to a select few clients,” she wrote in an email, referring to the first stage of a product’s roll-out. “I’d be happy to get you into the beta if you’re interested.”


I looked into BMG donations and found nothing. Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller found something quite interesting however:

Perhaps ironically, BMG and Crown/Random House (which published both of Obama’s books, his campaign plan, and Michelle Obama’s new book) are — despite Obama’s concerns about “outsourcing” — all owned by German conglomerate Bertlesmann AG, which bills itself as “the world’s most international media company.”

So it is interesting that the company that pulled down Romney’s web ad shares a German parent company with Obama’s publisher.

According to their Wikipedia entry, “During World War II, Bertelsmann was the biggest single producer of Nazi propaganda.” The BBC reports that “German media giant Bertelsmann has admitted it lied about its Nazi past and that it made big profits during Adolf Hitler’s reign in Germany using Jewish slave labour.”

Crown/Random House does good work, and nobody should blame Obama for making millions off of his writing. But just imagine what they would be saying if Romney’s turnaround book had been published by a multinational conglomerate with ties to Nazi propaganda.

In the end I suppose it won’t matter. BMG will admit they were wrong. YouTube will inform the Romney team that there are no copyright strikes against their account. The video will go back up. And by then, no one will notice.


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