Political Speech and DMCA Takedowns: An Imperfect Balance

I just had my first post pub­lished on the William & Mary IP Soci­ety blog:

If you fol­low elec­tion cam­paigns, you’re likely famil­iar with the idea of the Octo­ber sur­prise.  The term refers to a last-minute rev­e­la­tion that forces a candidate’s cam­paign into cri­sis response mode, at a time when the slight­est hic­cup might derail their suc­cess.  Take, for exam­ple, Cal­i­for­nia guber­na­to­r­ial can­di­date Meg Whitman’s recent woes over her for­mer house­keeper.

Now a very dif­fer­ent sort of Octo­ber sur­prise looms as cam­paigns increas­ingly come to rely on the Inter­net for their mes­sag­ing.  In addi­tion to defend­ing against tra­di­tional last minute rev­e­la­tions, cam­paigns must now fight against cen­sor­ship dis­guised as copy­right enforce­ment.

The rest of the post dis­cusses the recent CDT report on ille­git­i­mate DMCA take­downs of polit­i­cal cam­paign videos, and how the DMCA poses par­tic­u­lar prob­lems for this type of con­tent.  Read the rest of the post here.