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Canada Gov't Censors Parliament Hearings On YouTube 192

Posted by timothy
from the state-vs.-everyone dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Canadian government has admitted sending cease and desist letters to YouTube demanding that it remove videos of Parliamentary hearings. Lawyers for the House of Commons argue that using videos of elected representatives without permission constitutes copyright infringement and a contempt of Parliament."
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Canada Gov't Censors Parliament Hearings On YouTube

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  • Lawyers for the House of Commons argue that using videos of elected representatives without permission constitutes copyright infringement and a contempt of Parliament.

    You know, you have to hand it to lawyers ... just when I think they are enforcing copyright on everything possible, they go and surprise the hell out of me.

    Finally, news where I can actually stand up proudly and say take a page from the United States on this one, Canada [whitehouse.gov]:

    Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

    Whether or not that mentality actually will be implemented here in the US remains to be seen--I certainly hope Obama follows through.

  • Disturbing.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @05:49PM (#27989491)

    while "distorting" a video for parody, satire or political comment purposes may still fall outside the licence and lead to demands for its removal

    This is very disturbing, parody, satire, and political statements should be expressly legal under any sane copyright system. Especially for non-commercial use.

    What is with "developed" countries and the corruption of copyright? The US, Canada, EU, and most other nations have bought into the corporations, and that just is sad.

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      What is with "developed" countries and the corruption of copyright?

      Umm.. copyright = corruption.

      "Hey, can you make me a law where I'm the only one who can do [commercially interesting activity]?"

      Corruption.

      • No, copyright is not corruption. Like anything else, it is susceptible to corruption, but the concept itself is not corrupt. Instead, it is intended to limit truly corrupt practices, like attempting to unfairly profit from somebody else's hard work.

        • by QuantumG (50515) *

          it is intended to limit truly corrupt practices, like attempting to unfairly profit from somebody else's hard work.

          So taking something from the public domain and publishing it, thus causing it to not fall into obscurity is corrupt? How do you figure?

          • by Capsaicin (412918)

            So taking something from the public domain and publishing it, thus causing it to not fall into obscurity is corrupt? How do you figure?

            Huh? Copyright doesn't stop you publishing "something from the public domain."

            What would be corrupt is me reading the manuscript of a book you've written, making a copy, handing it back to you and telling you I'm not interested in paying you for it, and then publishing it and making money out of your work. That's the kind of corrupt behaviour copyright is intended to sto

            • by QuantumG (50515) *

              Sigh, that's not what you said. What you said was "attempting to unfairly profit from somebody else's hard work" .. so you've given one example, a terrible one at that btw, how about you define your terms.. cause all you're coming across as is another slashtard who thinks copyright is a natural right.

              • Actually, thats what I said, not the person you are responding to, and your bizarre counter-example doesn't make any sense (even in context).

                I don't think it is corrupt for me to have the right to exercise some control over the works that I invest my resources in to create. This control doesn't even need to be to generate profits (look at the GPL, for instance, whose entire existence is based on the so-called "corrupt" concept of copyrights).

                I do think it would be corrupt for somebody else to be able to ta

              • by Capsaicin (412918)

                What you said was "attempting to unfairly profit from somebody else's hard work" .. so you've given one example, a terrible one at that btw

                Terrible in that it is not an example of attempting to unfairly profit from somebody else's hard work?" Terrible in that such behaviour would not be remedied by copyright legislation? Or terrible because it shows up so clearly your lack of understanding and insight -- and because you imagine that by simply labelling an example 'terrible' it will convince anyone other

      • Luckily for me, as an individual I can also copyright my works. If you don't want to play ball with the copyright system, then don't use commercial material.

    • Re:Disturbing.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @06:20PM (#27989653)

      This is very disturbing, parody, satire, and political statements should be expressly legal under any sane copyright system. Especially for non-commercial use.

      He's probably referring to droits d'auteur [wikipedia.org] which is a continental thing (vs common law) - we don't really have it in the US, Canada does have it to some degree due to their legal system's french influence. One part of such "author's rights" is the right to not have the creation used in a way contradictory to the creator's wishes such as to misrepresent what the creator intended to present. It's pretty ambiguous and the concept of fair use may not even apply, depending on the circumstances.

      That's not to say that I disagree with your point, just to explain where the rationalization is coming from since we don't really have the same concept in US copyright law.

      • The problem I have is that I don't think a person that's supposed to be working on the behalf of their constituents should be able to claim copyrights on what they did while working in that capacity.

        As far as I'm concerned, if they want to own the copyright on something, such as a book or video work, they should do that something on their own time and their own resources.

        • by dryeo (100693)

          I guess that officially they are working for the Queen, so she owns the copyright.
          Still, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_copyright#Canada [wikipedia.org]

          Anyone may, without charge or request for permission, reproduce enactments and consolidations of enactments of the Government of Canada, and decisions and reasons for decisions of federally constituted courts and administrative tribunals, provided due diligence is exercised in ensuring the accuracy of the materials reproduced and the reproduction is not represented as an official version.

        • by mpe (36238)
          The problem I have is that I don't think a person that's supposed to be working on the behalf of their constituents should be able to claim copyrights on what they did while working in that capacity.

          Possibly the real reason they don't like these videos is that they might show who is actually doing their job and who isn't. It probably isn't a bad idea to check over their "expenses" too...
        • The problem I have is that I don't think a person that's supposed to be working on the behalf of their constituents should be able to claim copyrights on what they did while working in that capacity.

          Unlike the copyright you are familiar with droits d'auteur are not transferable, they rest permanently with the creator.

        • You brought up an idea that I think could conceivably already fall under present law: where such a concept exists, work for hire [wikipedia.org] might conceivably mark the copyright of anything produced by government officials as owned by the government and, indirectly, by all citizens.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        He's probably referring to droits d'auteur [wikipedia.org] which is a continental thing (vs common law) - we don't really have it in the US, Canada does have it to some degree due to their legal system's french influence.

        If you had RTFA, you'd know that the Canadians are claiming Crown copyright [wikipedia.org]
        which is due to their government having the Queen of England as its head of state.
        AFAIK, all of the UK and most British Overseas Territories have Crown copyright.

        Moral rights [wikipedia.org] (you munged the link btw) are an entirely separate issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Those exceptions are specifically legal in Canada.

      These lawyers don't have a legal leg to stand on and will end up being heavily drubbed by a judge.

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      It's also very much an about face. Rick Mercer uses photos and clips of Parliament for parody and general mockery just about every episode of the Mercer Report...but I guess the government can't sue itself?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17, 2009 @05:50PM (#27989497)

    Say anything you want, without anyone legally repeating what you said.

  • i was under the impression in most countries with sane leadership and laws, government work was owned by the people. so unless they are calling on some inane interpretation of the law claiming because it's hosted outside of canadian servers it's copyright infringement since canada owns it, i can't see how removing access to parilment debates will lead to anything but protests in the streets.

    you have to view this as the government trying to remove people's access to views opposing it's own, since parilemtn

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by amliebsch (724858)
      In many countries, works of government are indeed owned "by the people." Of course, by "the people," we really mean "the government," since obviously the government represents the people. Net result: like everything else, the government wields the copyright to its own benefit while claiming it is doing so in the best interests of "the people." The best thing to do is what the U.S. thankfully does: works of government are not copyrighted by anyone. They are automatically placed in the public domain.
    • by mpe (36238)
      i was under the impression in most countries with sane leadership and laws, government work was owned by the people.That may be true, but such countries appear rather uncommon now. Copyright being an area of law where sanity is in very short supply.
  • Heh. That's almost too easy a slow pitch; I couldn't have phrased it better myself. And I'm not even Canadian (though I have tons of Canadian relatives -- pretty much everyone on my mother's side of the family.) ..bruce..

  • Copyright (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmomo (256005) on Sunday May 17, 2009 @06:00PM (#27989571) Homepage

    If a Government holds a copyright, and claims infringement of that copyright against the People, could it then be said that the Government's assets do not belong to the People? Can it then be said that the Government is not of the People?

    I know this case is different, seeing as YouTube may be outside of the Country. But it does highlight the absurdity of Government being able to hold copyright. Absurd absurd absurd.

    • Actually, they seem to think the Crown owns the copyright. Does this mean it's the British Queen who owns all of it? If it is, then may be it could be a new source of income for her.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Raemond (710835)
        Nope. It means the Canadian Crown owns it. Which is the corporation sole (look it up) that represents the Executive of Canada. If anything it means the Canadian government 'owns' it, but only on behalf of the nation.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Does this mean it's the British Queen who owns all of it?

        Actually, up here she's not the "British Queen" she's referred to as the "Queen of Canada." In a Parliamentary Democracy such as ours, the government does it's work on behalf of the people in the name of the monarch. So yes, she does own the copyright on what happens in her parliament. However, there are many statutes and customs which effectively prevent her from exercising her rights of ownership herself.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mpe (36238)
          Actually, up here she's not the "British Queen" she's referred to as the "Queen of Canada."

          She's queen of quite a lot of places...
    • by Bios_Hakr (68586)

      It could be that a 3rd Party company is video-taping the sessions.

    • by grcumb (781340)

      I know this case is different, seeing as YouTube may be outside of the Country. But it does highlight the absurdity of Government being able to hold copyright.

      I'm actually more disturbed by their selective application of copyright. In all the years since Parliament was first televised, I have never once seen a copyright attribution on the television news reports that make liberal (sorry) use of this very same footage. Other third party footage is always attributed and often licensed.

      Full disclosure: I worke

  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Sunday May 17, 2009 @06:03PM (#27989587)

    Relying on crown copyright, the policy states that any other use - including any commercial use - requires the express prior written approval of the Speaker of the House of Commons. This stands in sharp contrast to the United States, where the default presumption is that such videos are in the public domain and can be freely used without permission. House of Commons lawyers portrayed that approach as representing an extreme position.

    Well there you go. It seems that by default the Canadian people don't own any videos of their elected officials performing their official duties.

    To their credit, most of the MPs on the Committee recognized that changes to the policies in the YouTube era are needed. However, MPs from the three opposition parties expressed some reluctance to mirror the U.S. approach, fearing that some videos taken out of context could be "terrifically damaging."

    Wow. Your kidding. No Shit.

    Most of what governments are passing these days would piss people off.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DirtyCanuck (1529753)

      I think the problem is not with the videos themselves but who is gaining traffic from the viewing of such videos. Considering C Span is one of the few channels available to all Canadians I would suspect that this should fall under such commons. However it would be the same as say CBC programs that are freely available at CBC.ca being redistributed on Youtube.

      However until the Canadian government decides to offer such videos through a service or their own I would disagree with these motions.

      We must also cons

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think you mean CPAC [www.cpac.ca] not C Span.

    • "Most of what governments are passing these days would piss people off."

      That should read: "What most private sector corporations are doing these days would piss people off" after all they are the ones funding these bullshit laws through their lobbying efforts and buying off politicians.

      • Corporations come and go, but you only have one government (excluding a revolution).

        Second of all, politicians shouldn't be bought off in the first place. In fact, such politicians should be summarily executed. They need to know what the meaning of *fear* is!

  • There's something seriously wrong with Canada if their Parliament considers their proceedings to be proprietary. The Canadian voters have paid for them, and if Parliament is trying to hide their proceedings then there's some secret they're trying to hide.

    Sometimes, when the US has completely disgusted me, I merely have to look north for some tomfoolery that makes me remember again why I never moved up there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dexmachina (1341273)
      They're not trying to hide their proceedings. As other people have noted, there's a Canadian cable channel called CPAC devoted to airing parliamentary proceedings. The point isn't that they don't want the videos to be seen, from what I gather it's more about having them taken out of context, etc. Not that I agree with it, I still think it's stupid. But that doesn't mean it's OK to misrepresent the issue.
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      I'm pretty sure I can turn to some channel and see every last second on their childish name calling. And if anybody says anything particularly racist and ignorant, they'll repeat the clips on the news. Not a second of it is secret, it's all on tape, that's where the youtube clips came from. They apparently are worried about clips being taken out of context by people other than journalists, I dunno, seems like a legitimate concern, but an over reaction to it ;) That is, after all, what the "Respond to th
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17, 2009 @08:38PM (#27990487)

    Most of the comments that have been made so far are obviously by Americans: not that that's a bad thing, but it's obvious that there is a fundamental lack of understanding by the posters. It's okay, we had a constitutional crisis recently and a majority of Canadians showed quite clearly that they don't understand parliamentary democracy, either.

    Canada is a bicameral Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, and continues to be one of 15 Commonwealth Realms (and is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations - the difference between a Realm and a member of the Commonwealth is detailed below). As a Commonwealth Realm, a monarch of the House of Windsor sits as Canada's Sovereign as the Queen of Canada - we are, in effect, personal union with the other 14 realms (The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, etc), and due to our history, we share roughly the same governmental structure as the other Commonwealth Realms: Westminster parliamentary democracy.

    In our system, the state is the Sovereign and the Sovereign is the state, in effect; it is through the exercise of sovereignty that all of the wonderful freedoms we enjoy are guaranteed. The constitutional view is very Hobbesian, in this regard: rights are understood to be conventional, and contingent upon the Monarch to exercise sovereignty effectively to prevent those rights from being infringed upon. In common parlance, the Sovereign is understood as being the "Crown."

    It is through the Crown that all matters of law and order are conducted - for example, in Canada, we have "Crown prosecutors" rather than District Attorneys, and when prosecutions take place, it is the Queen-in-right of Canada that is making the charge. The Crown is, to use American terminology, the Executive. However, due to various constitutional conventions and historical developments, we have a merged legislative and executive branch.

    Parliament is made up of three parts: the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Sovereign. The Queen is represented in Canada by the Governor-General as viceroy, and exercises all powers (so-called "reserve powers") ascribed to the office by the Constitution Act 1867, that is to say, basically all functions of government. But it is only on the advice of the Prime Minister that those actions are ever undertaken. Once again, due to various constitutional conventions, the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Commons, who is best able to retain the confidence of the House. The Prime Minister is then appointed to the Privy Council (similar to the notion of the President appointing all of the people at the White House), who then recommends to the G-G who else to induct. All of these inductees become Privy Councillors, and go on to form Cabinet, the executive body of the country which does most of the governing and forms what is called in constitutional parlance a "Ministry."

    Why is this important? Quite simply, because of two traditions: the first, which has been detailed here, is that of responsible government. The Governor-General has vast powers, but only ever exercises them based upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister, who is himself bound to the will of the House of Commons. The second is the notion of Parliamentary supremacy - this is the constitutional doctrine which was solidified after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 that established that the Sovereign cannot act against the will of Parliament or undertake action with its sanction, and also established Parliament as the chief and supreme body of governance.

    The Speaker of the House of Commons is an officer of Parliament and also a Member. He is the one who controls and directs all debate, and it is the Speaker that establishes and rules on the standing orders. Relating to the televising of Parliament, the Speaker reigns supreme: it is only through authorization of the Speaker that cameras were ever allowed into the chamber, and it is on his authority that they continue to do so.

    Second, all copyright owned by the Government of Canada is actually owned by the Cr

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jabuzz (182671)

      I would add it has worked longer than the United States of America has been a nation. I would also point out that the French are onto their fifth republic in 217 years, so clearly that is working out well for them.

      These young whipper snappers :-)

  • Even if there is a canadian crown copyright no US judge would enforce such such a copyright if the use was exempted under US law(such as satire or political criticism.)

  • The Canadian government clearly doesn't understand who their actual employers are. It's time to fire a few of them until they come to respect that once more.
    • by jabuzz (182671)

      Neither do you because it is Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, etc.

      The *ONLY* person who can fire the government is the reigning Monarch, who does so through the Governor-General of Canada

  • Contempt of parliment will be when YouTube replies "You got to be f**king kidding. What kind of idiot thought up that jem?"

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