The reelection campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has posted to its official YouTube channel an entire local news story reporting on his GOP opponent Sue Lowden's "chicken for checkups" flap:
The video, which lasts 3 minutes, 15 seconds, is simply an entire news story from KTVN, the CBS affiliate in Reno; the the campaign hasn't added anything or altered the video in any way. The purpose of posting the video is crystal clear: to keep Lowden's gaffe in the news, in the hopes it sinks her campaign. I think any fair use argument would be weak. (I have no idea whether KTVN objects to this use.)
The point of this post isn't to single out Reid. I'm sure many other campaigns, of both parties, are engaging in similar practices. My point is simply that many campaigns and political observers are likely committing copyright infringement in their web video tactics, and there are bound to be numerous DMCA takedown imbroglios -- and perhaps even a few copyright lawsuits -- over the course of the cycle. Some of these takedowns will be legitimate; I'm sure others won't. Fair use should be at its height in the course of a political campaign. I would suggest campaigns familiarize themselves with at least the basics of copyright before they start letting staffers post video to the web. And I'd urge news organizations to post clear guidelines as to what they consider acceptable uses of their material. There are endlessly fascinating fair use and First Amendment arguments here, but it's better for both sides to have a good sense of the rules of the road, so that they can concentrate, respectively, on campaigning or reporting, rather than litigating.