Virtual Voices

Hagee removes YouTube videos

Campaign 2008

John Hagee (the anti-Catholic reverend whose endorsement McCain sought and then rejected) just had his lawyers remove dozens of YouTube videos featuring him --- videos he says violate copyright law, and videos bloggers say make him look like a bigot. The move has outraged vloggers and pushed discussion of news suppression into the digital age.

Hagee's lawyers arranged to have more than 120 videos removed from YouTube, including one called the "God Sent Hitler" video. According to The Cutting Edge News, Hagee's attorneys said they only removed videos that fit a specific criteria: "1) Any and all pre-recorded material garnered from works owned and distributed by JHM or John Hagee Copyrights; 2) Any material depicting a JHM or John Hagee copyrighted service or performance of the service or sermon, and 3) Any material that is no longer free use material by having been effectively made into a derivative work using materials mentioned above."

Bloggers, however, question the timing and are crying censorship. On the Huffington Post, Sam Stein noted that some of the clips had been up for over a year and that the firm's spokesperson didn't have an answer as to why Hagee wanted the sermons removed now.

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According to Max Blumenthal, his video contained no copyrighted material - only the footage he had taken himself. Blumenthal said, "It became apparent to me that Hagee's minions were guided by ulterior political motives. Instead of guarding their copyrights, they sought to stifle legitimate reporting on Hagee's far-out End Times ideology."

Bruce Wilson wonders why John Hagee would suddenly want to limit the dissemination of a sermon he broadcast he around the world and says, "In caving to the demands of John Hagee Ministries, YouTube has censored what clearly is political speech." The Independent Conservative writes, "Team Hagee claims they went after anything that featured sermons by Hagee, CUFI activities or John Hagee Ministries events. If that is true, why are all these other John Hagee videos still on YouTube?" (See here.)

With big political stories breaking --- and endlessly looping --- on the Internet now, public figures embarrassed on YouTube may try similar methods to salvage their reputations. Bloggers, however, aren't giving up that easily. Hagee opponents are filing appeals with YouTube to get their videos back up on the website.

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