John McCain loses YouTube election battle

LONDON - US presidential candidate John McCain has lost his battle with YouTube after the Google-owned website stood by its decision to pull videos of his political rallies because they contained copyrighted music.

McCain's campaign videos have frequently been removed by YouTube following complaints that they use copyrighted clips from TV debates or music soundtracks without permission.

The McCain team had asked the video-sharing website to review how it removes political videos accused of copyright infringement in a letter written by McCain's general counsel, Trevor Potter.
The letter, which was sent to executives including Chad Hurley, YouTube's co-founder, argued that the video-sharing website is too quick to take down videos accused of copyright infringement.

Potter argued that not all of McCain's videos infringe copyright and the re-instatement process of 10 to 14 days is too long, with Election Day less than three weeks away.

Potter said: "Ten days can be a life time in a political campaign, and there is no justification for depriving the American people of access to important and timely campaign videos during that period.

"We fully understand that YouTube may receive too many videos, and too many takedown notices, to be able to conduct full fair-use review of all such notices. But we believe it would consume few resources -- and provide enormous benefit -- for YouTube to commit to a full legal review of all takedown notices on videos posted from accounts controlled by [at least] political candidates and campaigns."

YouTube has rejected the complaint. Zahavah Levine, YouTube's general counsel, said: "We try to be careful not to favor one category of content on our site over others, and to treat all our users fairly, regardless of whether they are an individual, a large corporation, or a candidate for public office."

The move comes as McCain is swamped by his presidential rival's adspend after Democrat nominee Barack Obama decided to forgo public financing, which imposes spending limits in return for matching federal money.

In doing so, Obama has raised huge sums of money through public donations on the internet, while McCain, who is a participant in the federal system, is constrained by limits on his election spending.

Both presidential hopefuls have paved new trails in their use of online media, with commentators in the US even dubbing the event "The YouTube Election".

McCain and Obama both have dedicated YouTube channels. Last week Obama become the first presidential candidate to advertise in video games on the Xbox 360.

Tapping into an increasingly popular advertising medium, Obama's campaign has paid for advertising in 18 video games, including 'Guitar Hero', 'Burnout Paradise' and 'Madden 09'.

The YouTube spat comes as a report in the Wall Street Journal says that this year's presidential election advertising could be the most negative since the dawn of the television era.

The WSJ artcile says that McCain isn't only running more negative advertising than Obama, but he is also losing more ground for it.

Most recently, McCain released a TV ad attempting to link Obama to 1960s Chicago radical William Ayers in an effort to cement the idea that he is "too risky for America".

However, the reports says McCain's failure to link his negative ads to a contemporary concern has failed to resonate with voters, who are not concerned about links to 1960s radicals.

Brookings Institution scholar Darrell West told the paper: "Arguing about personal associations pales in comparison to the current grim economic news."

You can watch all the election ads and **vote** for who you think will the US presidential election in Brand Republic blog Electioneering Stateside.