Coalition Letter to TV Networks and YouTube: Protect Online Political Speech

Oct 20, 2008
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

A broad coalition of public interest groups released two letters today calling on television networks and YouTube to protect online political speech in the final days of this election.

These letters follow-up on an ACLU of Northern California and EFF blog post in August highlighting the importance of the Internet as a forum for political speech and calling on service providers and content owners to do their part to safeguard free speech.

In today's open letter sent to CBS, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), Fox, and NBC today, the coalition asked the broadcasters to stop sending takedown requests based on copyright in short clips of news footage used in election-related videos. Last week, the McCain-Palin campaign contacted YouTube after CBS, CBN, and Fox targeted the campaign's videos for removal from YouTube. The Obama-Biden campaign has had at least one of its videos removed from YouTube in response to a similar copyright demand from NBC.

In a separate open letter also written to YouTube today, the coalition suggests two measures to protect all video contributors from unfounded takedown demands. First, all "counter-notices" sent by YouTube users protesting copyright takedown demands should be immediately reviewed by YouTube staff, and the video immediately restored if it is a clear case of fair use. Second, once a user has already provided a valid counter-notice, then YouTube should also review any further takedown notice issued to any video posted to the account.

The coalition includes ACLU, ACLU of Northern California, the Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard's Berkman Center; Anthony Falzone, the executive director of Stanford's Fair Use Project; the Center for Social Media, School of Communication, American University; the Program for Information Justice & Intellectual Property, American University Law School; and Public Knowledge.

For more information about internet free speech, please visit the ACLU of Northern California internet free speech page here.

And the National ACLU internet free speech page here.