Al Green hasn’t released a new album since 2008’s Lay It Down, but the soul great has been having a hell of a year. In January, President Barack Obama sang 10 seconds of Green’s 1971 hit “Let’s Stay Together,” single-handedly saving the music business. This week, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney responded to an Obama ad that features the former Massachusetts governor’s rather pitchy “America the Beautiful” by running an ad depicting Obama’s surprisingly solid Green rendition. As tech blog Ars Technica points out (via the Daily Swarm), though, the Romney YouTube ad has been hit with that common, dreaded sight: a copyright takedown notice. The ironing is delicious.
The saga of Obama’s brief yet weirdly long-lived Green cover wouldn’t be complete, however, without a couple of further twists. First, it only seems like common sense that Romney’s use of Obama’s vocal should be legal: Commentary and criticism are considered fair use of copyrighted material, legally, and besides, Obama only sings six words of the song. What’s more, because “America the Beautiful” was published before 1923, Obama can legally continue to use Romney’s, uhh, performance in his ad without fear of YouTube reprisal.
So what about Romney’s ad? Well, according to Ars Technica, the G.O.P. presidential hopeful can fight the takedown notice, filed by music publisher BMG Rights Management. But the earliest YouTube could put the video back up would be after ten days. “In a campaign where the news cycle is measured in hours, ten days is an eternity,” the blog notes. Which, perhaps not coincidentally, is how long Green promises we’ll stay together. (Or until somebody turns up video of Seamus the dog yapping copyrighted melodies from the roof of the Romney family car, whichever comes first.)