YouTube: Vetting All Political Video Takedown Notices Is Unworkable

Google owned video site responds to McCain campaign regarding DMCA takedown notices.

YouTube has told the McCain campaign that it will not review every take-down notice it gets for political videos before removing the videos, saying that "is not a viable solution."

campaign general counsel Trevor Potter had written YouTube asking it not to automatically take down political ads and videos, saying overreaching rights holders could threaten political speech given the length of time it takes to have non-infringing videos reposted after they are taken down by YouTube.

But YouTube in its response said it does not have the expertise to determine whether all the takedown notices it receives are infringing or qualify for fair use protection.

While limiting the reviews to political ads would address YouTube's problems with the scale of a vetting process, it would not solve the problem of not having all the information necessary to make those calls, said the social networking site's top lawyer.

YouTube also said that while it recognizes the importance of material related to the presidential campaigns, there was plenty of other content that global users found equally important, including elections in other countries and human rights issues.

"We try to be careful not to favor one category of content on our site over others, and to treat all of our users fairly, regardless of whether they are an individual, a large corporation or a candidate," said YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine, who penned the letter to Potter.

YouTube encouraged the McCain campaign to be more proactive itself, seeking retractions of "abusive" takedown notices, publicizing their actions or filing suit. The latter two would not address the McCain campaign complaint that time is of the essence and that the 10 days or two weeks it takes to have videos reposted, regardless of the determination of their infringement or lack of it, is a lifetime in politics.

Levine also put in a plug for fair use rights. "We look forward to working with Senator (or President) McCain on ways to combat abuse of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown process," Levine said, "including, by way of example, strengthening the fair use doctrine, so that intermediaries like us can rely on this important doctrine with a measure of business certainty."

Among those asking the McCain campaign to take down videos was CBS News.