Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dem Jeanette Rishell campaign seeks to squash political speech?

Greg Letiecq at Black Velvet Bruce Li must have hit a nerve when his video questioning the Jeanette Rishell campaign caused the campaign to censor his YouTube video criticizing the candidate.

Today a press release from Mr. Letiecq exposed the issue:
Manassas, Virginia: The campaign of Jeanette Rishell, a candidate running for the 50th District House of Delegates in Virginia has filed a copyright infringement claim with YouTube regarding a video created by local blogger Greg Letiecq on July 29th. The video criticizes her selection of a campaign manager and uses short clips from her own campaign videos to demonstrate the hypocrisy of claiming to support family values, but hiring someone to represent her campaign who posted pictures of used condoms on her public Facebook page, written articles advocating homosexual relationships, and had supported including hard-core pornography videos in the collection of the library at Rochester University.

“YouTube maintains a policy of disabling video content after receiving any complaints regarding copyright infringement, so the videos are currently unavailable on YouTube” said Letiecq, the blogger who operates the Black Velvet Bruce Li blog. “It is unprecedented for a political campaign to allege copyright infringement when someone uses short clips of their campaign videos, and this is a clear effort to stifle criticism of her bad judgment by misusing the law.”

Copyright law provides limited use of the material of others under the “fair use doctrine,” particularly when such use is essential for parody, criticism or educational purposes and is limited to the minimum portion of the original work necessary. Recently, a similar “fair use” issue involving a video by the National Organization for Marriage and contested by Perez Hilton was resolved by YouTube in favor of the “fair use” of Perez Hilton's statements. Using short clips of a video for permitted purposes, even without authorization, is permissible "fair use" under Title 17 Section 107 of the United States Code.

Ben Tribbett, the blogger behind “Not Larry Sabato” called the Rishell campaign's actions “total insanity” in a post late on July 29th he decided to make the video available for download from his own servers so they could evaluate the claims of the Rishell campaign themselves. The attempt to misuse copyright law in an effort to stifle free political speech has failed because of a bipartisan effort by Virginia bloggers to stand up for free political speech.

* Electronic Frontier Foundation FAQ on “fair use”
* Copyrights and Campaigns Blog on National Organization For Marriage and Perez Hilton
* Video “Jeanette Rishell and Used Condom Girl"

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