As I write this, visiting Rand Paul's official YouTube page to watch his presidential announcement today will lead to disappointment. Not by the content, but rather the fact that it has been yanked from YouTube over copyright claims. Philip Bump over at The Washington Post explains the culprit:
Why? Did Rand Paul quote liberally from Waka Flocka Flame in his announcement? Did he hum Ween's "Freedom of '76" while praising the virtues of freedom?
No, the answer is almost certainly something else. Blame robots.
YouTube has a system called "Content ID," which allows the owners of copyright on material to automatically censor unlicensed use of said material. As described here, YouTube automatically matches videos against a big database of copyrighted material, including music, when the video is submitted. Then, copyright owners can, if they wish, block a video from being viewed.
During his announcement on Tuesday, Rand Paul entered and left to the song, "Shuttin' Detroit Down," as Business Insider notes. The song is a twangy lament about the state of the economy that dates back a few years; the copyright stamp on the YouTube video reads "(c) 2009 WMG." WMG, of course, is Warner Music Group.
These robotic claims are a bipartisan issue. The same thing happened to the Democrats at their national convention in 2012. It's a little funny and no doubt will be fixed soon, restoring Paul's video online, but it's actually a serious and frustrating issue. Frequently these copyright claims from big publishers are completely disconnected from any concern or interest in "fair use" and end up abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's procedures, created for removing pirated content from the Internet, to—intentionally or not—engage in online censorship.
UPDATE: Rand Paul also has a video posted today talking about Internet freedom, appropriately enough. Watch below: