More copyright problems for McCain?: CBS sends DMCA notice over McCain’s unauthorized use of CBS segment in campaign video re: “lipstick on a pig”

September 10, 2008

News: The John McCain camp appears to be in trouble again for alleged copyright infringement. CBS today sent YouTube a DMCA notice about the McCain camp’s negative ad that insinuated Sen. Barack Obama’s use of the saying “lipstick on a pig” was a reference to Gov. Sarah Palin. (Obama refuted that claim in this video.) Part of the McCain ad used a CBS segment of Katie Couric, apparently spliced in by the McCain camp without permission. CBS has asserted the McCain camp’s unauthorized use violates CBS’s copyright in the segment. Under the DMCA, YouTube must take down the video to fall within the safe harbor for Internet sites.

YouTube has now yanked John McCain’s video from YouTube, consistent with the DMCA notice-and-takedown procedure.

Analysis: This is not the first run-in with alleged copyright infringement for the McCain camp. As recounted on an earlier post, FOX News and Jackson Browne have all complained to the McCain camp about alleged unauthorized use of their copyrighted materials. Universal Music Publishing and Sony BMG have also complained about the use of their copyrighted song “Barracuda” (by Heart), although it’s not clear — based on the CNN news reports — whether McCain has a license (or not) to play the song at the campaign stops where it’s being played.  It will be interesting to see if the McCain camp continues to run that same ad on TV and, if so, what CBS’s response will be.

The Couric segment seemed to be taken out of context and to be not directly related to the context of the “lipstick on a pig” controversy. (I couldn’t tell for sure just based on watching the video.) If that is the case, any fair use argument is greatly diminished.

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