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Rand Paul Got Stung By YouTube’s Copyright Algorithm

The presidential contender is just the latest U.S. politician to have a campaign video yanked by YouTube.

Rand Paul Got Stung By YouTube’s Copyright Algorithm
[Photo: Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

It wouldn’t be presidential campaign season without a little YouTube copyright wrist-slapping. This time, it’s Rand Paul’s turn. Not long after announcing his candidacy for 2016, the Republican senator was hit with a DMCA takedown notice, reports The Verge.

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Apparently, the video of the announcement was flagged by YouTube’s Content ID copyright enforcement system because of its use of a country song by John Rich called “Shuttin’ Down Detroit,” a song whose copyright is owned by Warner Music Group.

So instead of a bold declaration of leadership and impending political change, the page housing Rand’s video reads like the YouTube account of some kid making unauthorized David Bowie remixes in his dorm room: “This content contains content from WMG, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”

Whoops.

Rand Paul isn’t the first U.S. politician to face the wrath of YouTube’s automated Content ID algorithm. In fact, it seems like a pretty common occurrence. In a far more ridiculous example, Mitt Romney had a campaign ad yanked by YouTube in 2012 because it contained a clip of President Obama singing an Al Green song. YouTube eventually sided with Romney in that dispute and brought the video back online.

In 2008, John McCain could only wish his luck had been so good. The Republican contender for the White House had so many videos pulled by YouTube that he pleaded with the company to cut him some slack on fair use grounds.

YouTube’s automated copyright police don’t have a partisan bias, either. The 2012 Democratic National Convention was famously blocked from YouTube due to a slew of (clearly bogus) copyright claims. In many cases, record labels, movie studios, and other rights holders send bulk takedown requests, sometimes for content that doesn’t even belong to them. That appears to be what happened in the DNC incident.

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From the looks of it, the copyright claim against Paul appears to be a bit more legit. So his campaign staff is either going to need to negotiate the right to license the song or find another option.

It’s still very early in the presidential campaign, so don’t expect the excitement to stop here: There’s plenty of time for YouTube copyright takedowns between now and Election Day.

[via The Verge]

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About the author

John Paul Titlow is a writer at Fast Company focused on music and technology, among other things. Find me here: Twitter: @johnpaul Instagram: @feralcatcolonist

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