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:
(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.