Intellectual property is theft!

Free Speech Under Siege: Obama’s Nazi Goons Censor Romney’s Dumb Ad

Now that we have imposed socialism by slightly expanding healthcare coverage, we will destroy free speech through a bogus copyright takedown!First, the Obama campaign released the Platonic Ideal of a campaign ad, a brief montage of empty factories and headlines about Willard Romney’s vulture-capitalist hijinks at Bain Capital, accompanied by Mittens’ accoustically-finessed assault on “America The Beautiful.” The Romney camp quickly fired back with an ad that was every bit as brilliant, really they promise, which contrasted President Soulful’s actually-good rendition of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” with some headlines about unemployment.

But then! In a suprising twist, YouTube pulled the Romney ad in response to a copyright claim by music publisher BMG, possibly because Al Green is a fan of Barack Obama, or possibly because BMG is a giant soulless corporation with a long history of acting like a complete bastard to “protect” its copyrights. The Romney campaign says its use of the clip was “100% proper, under fair use,” and frankly, we agree with them, because come on, the 14-second clip was everywhere, and unlike the zillions of other examples of campaigns using music without permission, no one in their right mind could mistake this use of the tune for an endorsement of Romney.

Nonetheless, the Wingnutosphere was quick to see Hypocrisy! Yes, friends Hypocrisy! in BMG’s takedown. NewsBusters’ Noel Sheppard notes that

there’s practically a deluge of “Obama sings Al Green” videos functioning just fine at YouTube.

Why is the one used by the Romney campaign being singled out for copyright reasons?

(We will venture to guess that just maybe none of those other videos are national campaign ads, but, to reiterate, we agree that Mittens’s campaign is on solid fair-use ground anyway.)

Over at The Blaze, Becket Adams does the Romney campaign a solid; with the video gone, Adams treats us to enough screenshots and verbatim quotes of the ad copy that we can reconstruct it for ourselves. Also, another Hypocrisy! alert: Not only did BMG not protest all those other videos, they seem perfectly fine with the Obama campaign distributing the audio clip as a downloadable ringtone:
Potus on your phonus(In general, we do not care for The Blaze, but their alt-text, “Potus on your phonus,” actually made us snort cheap red moscato out our nose, so we will give them credit for that, and copy it over here.)

Finally, Matt K. Lewis at The Daily Caller found himself unable to hold back from going Full Godwin over the YouTube takedown, playing the “hypocrisy!” card twice, as well as throwing in hints of crony capitalism and, what the hell, why not, genocide:

One wonders if an Obama ad featuring the song would have also been pulled down?

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.”

We honestly hope that Mr. Lewis gets some kind of lifetime achievement award for that one.

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About the author

Doktor Zoom lives in Boise, Idaho. He acquired his pseudonym after being differently punctual to too many meetings. He is not a medical doctor, although he has a real PhD (in Rhetoric and Composition).

View all articles by Doktor Zoom

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111 comments

      1. Barb

        Good to see you too, Soros.
        I was trying to retroactively retire and then out-of-state visitors showed up.

  1. sbj1964

    Mitt will be playing the mainroom at Sheldons Adelson's Asian casino's.He can't sing but is still better than most Asians,but not by much.

    1. Maman

      Moscato is perfect for the morning…. it is fruitier and bubblier. Damn, now I want one. I don't think I have seen a red moscato before. Would Doktor Zoom tell me where it is from?

      1. Doktor Zoom

        Barefoot Wines, 5 bucks and change. Also, post was written Monday night, as if that makes my shameful wine-out-the-nostrils behavior any better.

        1. Maman

          you are talking to the wrong girl about appropriate wine drinking times. I am in training (for my liver) for the American Wine Bloggers Conference where we will drink from about 10 am until after midnight. (though we will also get spit buckets too)

  2. Maman

    Hasn't anyone ever explained to Mittens that enforcement is always random. You can't contest a speeding ticket because someone was going faster than you.

  3. mavenmaven

    Wait, the Nazis control the media? I thought the Jews did! Or, in some Glenn Beckian way, are the Nazis actually the Jews? Anyway, conspiracy!

    1. Tundra Grifter

      In Germany in the late 1930's, two Jewish gentleman were sitting on a park bench.

      One was reading the Jewish newspaper, the other a copy of the Nazi Party rag.

      The gentleman with the Jewish newspaper asked his friend "Why do you read that? My paper has the truth. Times are horrible now. Our lives are in danger."

      His friend replied "I read this paper to cheer myself up. It says Jews are running the world."

  4. freakishlywrong

    The first one of these assholes that just cold calls Barry a ni$$er gets a pocket Constitution with all the amendments they hate removed, (all but the 2nd then, obvs).

  5. Goonemeritus

    Music publisher BMG kicked in the door of my bathroom this morning when I was singing in the shower so I can identify with this story.

  6. ManchuCandidate

    Wow. The Romboto campaign can't do anything right. It's definitely the guy I WANT RUNNING US AMERCIA. Fit right in with the Teabaggers who promise jobs and gave US AMerCIANs a war on Vajayjay.

  7. eggsacklywright

    I seen on the innernets that Bertelsmann is publishing Mitt's new book, too. It's called My Struggle .

  8. SorosBot

    YouTube and this publisher aren't actually arms of the government, so free speech doesn't apply to them; and YouTube is already notorious for pulling down anything a copywriter holder complains about even if it's covered under fair use.

  9. mrblifil

    Here's some eleven dimensional chess. Romney needed some cover to pull his embarrassing tribute ad to Obama off the internets and BMG provided cover by agreeing to make a complaint on copyright grounds. Ka-ZING you didn't see THAT coming!.

  10. SorosBot

    The Daily Caller, once again, doesn't know what ironic means; what actually is ironic is a conservative outlet complaining about imaginary crony capitalism when they always support crony capitalism under Republicans.

      1. SorosBot

        It's just like how both rich people and corporations donating to candidates is wrong if those candidates are Democrats.

        1. Doktor Zoom

          Requiring identity disclosure for donors of enormous sums of cash to political "social welfare organizations" that run ads is also fascism. Hitler did that shit all the time.

  11. Texan_Bulldog

    So this must mean Obama killed all those Jews. I am so not voting for this guy now. (As if my vote even counts in Tejas.)

  12. sullivanst

    Wait, the wingnuts are now complaining because a corporate person chooses to send takedown notices only to violators they don't like? Why do they hate freedumb so?

  13. JackDempsey1

    The Romney ads could use any song from "Stop Making Sense."
    David Byrne's suit is so ill fitting, it could only have been made by Americans.

  14. freakishlywrong

    We need to change the name of Godwin's law to "insane, bitter, sore loser wingtard's law". Just sayin'.

  15. Tundra Grifter

    A good friend of ours has a small retail store. She used to play tapes and CD's. A representative of one of the music publishers (either BMI or ASCAP) visited her and told her she needed to purchase a license to play copyrighted music in a commercial establishment.

    1. BhobGeary

      Which she does, legally.

      I mean, if she's playing short snippets of songs in order to comment on them with her customers, that's fair use and all. But if she's playing music to enhance her customers' experience in the store somehow, then she's deriving a financial benefit from copyrighted material. If that financial benefit isn't worth the ASCAP/BMI fee to her, then she should write some songs and record her own CDs and play them – problem averted.

      1. Doktor Zoom

        Hmmm…brand new account, and the first post is this? I would never jump to conclusions, but you are OBVIOUSLY AN RIAA / MPAA SPY!!!!!!!!

    2. BerkeleyBear

      Well, that's what they do – try to make it feel like a universal requirement. Of course, the workaround is that businesses can broadcast radio, or even air "re-transmissions" where, say, the commercials are cut out, as long as they comply with square footage and speaker requirements.

  16. randcoolcatdaddy

    Wait … conservatives actually _want_ this dreadfully produced political ad to be seen?

    Are these people in some kind of suicide pact or something?

  17. smitallica

    Trust us, Mittens, by pulling the ad where you remind people how sexy, cool, on-key, and not you-like your opponent is, they did you a fucking favor.

    Also, someone with such a vaunted business background as you keep claiming to have should probably know the difference between public domain and copyright-protected. Asshole.

  18. Beowoof

    Mitt is so not used to having to follow any of the rules the little people follow. And really Tucker Carlson's site, that paragon of journalistic ethics is complaining. It is so quaint, that they should bring up Hitler again in describing Obama, after all who more represents the Aryan ideal than Barack.

  19. SayItWithWookies

    The Romneyites should be grateful to BMG for getting that crap off the air. Right now their collective IQ is around 40 and falling, and if everyone with a voice in that campaign agrees that stonewalling the release of Mitt's tax returns is a good idea, they're looking at a long, painful toilet odyssey a la the scene in Gravity's Rainbow that I could never get past.

    1. fuflans

      this is what i said yesterday when i was so late to the original post they'd already pulled it. i honestly didn't know if it WAS sony or mittens' trainwreck of an ad team.

  20. elburritodeluxe

    Because if there's one thing the Republican Party cannot stand for, it's private businesses asserting their property rights!

  21. Tundra Grifter

    Noel Sheppard is an insufferable ass. NewsBusters is a cottage industry stocked by otherwise unemployable idiots living off the lie of the left-leaning American media.

    Their stock in trade is "Imagine" – as in "Imagine if a Democrat (or Liberal) (or any other group they hate) had done/said/thought/felt…" Because such a claim has no basis in fact it has no limit to its applications.

    They use "Imagine" more than John Lennon.

      1. Tundra Grifter

        You got that right!

        I used to post a bit on NewsBusters. Noel Sheppard threatened to ban me because I failed to toe the party line.

  22. BhobGeary

    This video *has* to go viral. I'm sure the usual-suspect wingnut sites will feature it, because they like to feel like persecuted outsiders even though they're white middle- to upper-middle-class white men. But hopefully they'll push it, email it around if they can figure out how attachments work, hype it as THE VIDEO BHO KILLED JEWS TO KEEP YOU FROM SEEING.

    Do it for Ghost Andrew Breitbart.

  23. mrpuma2u

    This is a double fake, as what REALLY happened is that the Romney-bot campaign realized is that even that brief footage was causing too many wiminz to squeal in girlish glee over Barry O's soulful crooning, and they were screwing themselves outta votes, I think.

    1. Puffperney

      "…causing too many wiminz to squeal in girlish glee over Barry O's soulful crooning…"

      Win!

  24. commiegirl99

    Guys, I'm not applying heightened scrutiny to the comments; Intense Debate has been whack for a week. If you are finding yourself unable to comment, please email me or tweet me and I'll set you right.

  25. fuflans

    One wonders if an Obama ad featuring the song would have also been pulled down

    probably not matt. he sings well and he's black. one of the few places it probably helps.

  26. BerkeleyBear

    Dok, not to harsh your otherwise brilliant post, but fair use has nothing to do with how widespread the violations of copyright are by others. No one has to sue every potential infringer to protect their rights (although the defendant might argue abandonment or implicit licensing from widespread use, those are distinct affirmative defenses whereas fair use is a statutory defense). It also isn't all that concerned with how the artist is viewed or claims of false affiliation (other countries protect those sorts of things better than we do, although fair use will consider the impact of the use on the value of the work – not the artist's reputation). The major considerations in a fair use defense are why, how and how much of the work you are using – is it for criticism (of the work, not general commentary or every ad could run audio they felt illustrated a point without paying), education (in a classic nonprofit education sense, not issue ads or again campaigns would never pay for music) or in some other way with a transformative step (like satire); how much of the work is appropriated and whether the use is commercial or non-commercial. It is a nebulous defense, incapable of precise definition, but the best argument for Romney is that the snippet is so small compared with the entire work(albeit a hugely recognizable hook) that it amounts to too little content to amount to infringement. The counter to that is that there was no effort made for it to convey a repurposed message like when music is sampled (mainly because the Romney team was so badly prepared they didn't take the time to massage the work well). Plus this is complicated because the rights of Al Green are to the song, but all Romney cares about is Obama's performance of that snippet. But that's the kind of thing that lawyers can fight about in Mitt's "quiet rooms" for years from now.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Thanks, BB–not harshed at all, and in fact I think what I was getting at was not that there are lots of un-slapped infringements, but rather that it would be fair use because it was a widely-reported "news" event–President sings a song, it gets reported, and becomes a meme. I think a brief excerpt of that would be protected as fair use regardless of the content, just as if the Romney ad were using a clip of Obama speaking words instead of singing 'em.

      Caveat: I have only a lay BoingBoing reader's awareness of Fair Use, which shows you my biases. Want to see my steampunk Disneyland mashup?

  27. lulzmonger

    Free Speech? On MY series-of-tubes?
    It's less likely than most people think.

    Interwebs 101: MODS ARE GODS, & any content you submit to them is their plaything, to be posted, deleted or mutilated (cf. exiledonline.com comment threads) as they see fit. Willard can post the big fucking fail of an ad on his own damn website & STFU.

  28. poorgradstudent

    Conservatives are supposed to be the pragmatic, salt-of-the-earth ones, and yet they don't seem to know what even elderly shut-ins who still use AOL know: that YouTube will cave to any claim of a copyright violation faster than Paula Abdul to a drug dealer.

  29. ttommyunger

    You Tube, Shmoo Tube; Mittens is going down like a two-Dollar hooker on Saturday night.

  30. DahBoner

    Why can't Mitt just sing the Chinese National Anthem?

    No copyrights and the Chinese people love his job creation record!

    Plus, they have no idea what a 'Mormon' is over there….

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