There's no word on whether John McCain will suspend his campaign to address the crisis, but his campaign sent off a letter to YouTube this week to endorse the doctrine of fair use on the Internet. The New York Times reports that YouTube removed some of his campaign commercials because they contained portions of television news segments, which are copyrighted materials. The irony in the piece is that McCain voted for the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which he now argues disproportionately favors the rights of copyright holders (ie large telecommunications companies, whose lobbyists one can only guess he has never met). With three weeks left in the campaign, he now favors fair use, which is necessary for public discourse and is grounded in free speech.
Bloggers and Internet denizens should welcome McCain into the fold, and hope he plans to stay after Nov. 4. Even if he doesn't google and Cindy handles email for him, the issue of net neutrality has yet to be fully resolved. He hasn't previously supported the Internet free speech movement. In a nutshell, protection of net neutrality is about equal access and would prevent broadband carriers from interfering with your usage. It would keep those companies from determining what you see and how fast you see it. The state of net neutrality was how the Internet was set up - essentially democratized so that individuals have control over what they see and how they use the internet. This is part of an interesting debate about how technology changes our concepts of free speech, copyrights and intellectual property rights. It's one that should be held in public. Now's a great time to ask your candidates where they stand on the issue of net neutrality. Will Coviello