BMG Rights Management, which issued the take down request that led to YouTube pulling a Mitt Romney campaign ad featuring President Obama singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” said that it acted on the request of the estate of Al Jackson, one the song’s co-author. But they denied that partisanship was the issue and instead the estate’s desire not to be associated with either candidate.
YouTube has since restored the video, along with an AP report on Obama’s singing, after concluding that they were within the legal bounds to do so.
A BMG spokeswoman said, in a statement, “Our sole motivation in this instance, as it is in all instances where we discover unlicensed uses of our clients’ copyrights, is to protect the rights of our clients without regard to political party or cause.
“BMG has taken down the use of this specific song in the context of the Romney ad as well as the Obama video after a complaint. The Estate of Al Jackson Jr., co-author of the work in question, does not wish his legacy to be associated with political ads by either candidate.
“We have respected the Estate’s request, but we do understand that there can be a reasonable debate about fair use. But we trust that debate can occur without the insinuation of political activism.”
What BMG seems to suggest is that the issue of “fair use’ is not so clear cut. So if there is further action, it will be up to Jackson’s estate to pursue in court, but not via a take down request.