ACLU takes on networks over YouTube takedowns


Citizens and even political campaigns are increasingly posting short news clips on the news tube as part of their expression of their First Amendment right to free political speech, only to have the news producing organizations order them taken down. The American Civil Liberties Union is arguing that the practice is protected under fair use statutes. The takedown requests sent in particular to YouTube are said to have come from CBS, CBN, Fox and NBC.

"More and more of today’s important political discussion is taking place online on sites like YouTube, and it’s critical that free speech is protected there," said ACLU’s Aden Fine. “Unfortunately, this valuable online political speech is repeatedly being threatened and shut down by overreaching copyright claims."

ACLU asked the networks to cease and desist from the practice in an open letter. It also fired off a letter to YouTube, suggesting it review all viewer complaints about a takedown and restore those deemed to be fair use, and further, to use those incidents as precedent to deny similar takedown requests from the networks.