YouTube Copyright Bots Block Rand Paul’s Presidential Announcement Video

April 7, 2015

Good luck trying to watch Senator Rand Paul’s presidential announcement speech on YouTube.

The Washington Post and Vox’s Andrew Prokop discovered that Rand Paul’s presidential nomination announcement is currently being blocked by YouTube, due to copyright restrictions.

At the time of this posting, the video is still down on YouTube but can seen on the ABC News website.

Interestingly, the video was blocked because of a song being played in the background before and after his presidential nomination speech.

“Shuttin’ Detroit Down” is “Shuttin’ Rand Paul’s Video Down”

The culprit is a song called “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” which is copyrighted content of Warner Music Group.

The song, performed by country music singer-songwriter John Rich, laments the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the City of Detroit.

Leslie Larson, of Business Insider, refers to the song an “anti-Wall Street anthem.” 

The song’s music video portrays actors Mickey Rourke and Kris Kristofferson as automobile assembly plant workers falling victim to layoffs resulting from the 2008 auto industry crisis and financial institution bailouts.

YouTube Content ID System

YouTube has a content identification system which identifies anything which may violate any copyrights.

Presidential Nomination Video Copyright YouTube


Infringing content triggers a “Content ID Claim” which puts the video provider on notice that content contained in the video potentially violates an existing copyright.

However, it is ultimately, it’s up to the copyright holder to authorize use of their content. 

Not the First Time

Copyright take downs happen every day on YouTube and have even recently impacted a Democratic national convention video

It Could Be Worse

While it’s a huge campaign blunder for a Presidential candidate’s nomination video to be blocked on YouTube, it could be worse.

Often, the intersection of music and politics results in bad publicity for politicians.

Liberal musicians are well-known for speaking out against politicians using their music. 

In 2012, John Mellencamp spoke out against Governor Scott Walker using one of his songs on the campaign trail.

That same year, Mitt Romney received a cease-and-desist-order for supposedly unauthorized use of a song during an election campaign.

Earlier in 2015, Scott Walker was targeted again when Boston-based punk band, the Dropkick Murphys, publicly chastised the politician on Twitter for using their music.

With a small pool of conservative musicians, it’s not surprising that republicans are typically the ones under fire in these disputes.

Public Performance Licenses

In light of these public feuds, high profile politicians have recently been more diligent about obtaining public performance licenses, which legally authorize use of music at political events.

Accordingly, it is more likely that Rand Paul’s campaign obtained clearance for the song which was prominently played before and after the high profile presidential nomination announcement. 

However, permission is not required if the speech occurs at a public venue that has a blanket license from performance rights organizations like The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).

According to Billboard, a Rand Paul campaign representative is currently “looking into the problem.”

Internet Freedom

Interestingly, Rand Paul posted a video on YouTube, today, in which he indicates he is a strong proponent of “internet freedom” and “opposes any attempt by government to tax, regulate, monitor or control the internet.”

It seems like the private sector is doing a great job, based on YouTube’s excellent job of protecting the copyright rights of millions.