City Council Claims Copyright Infringement Over One Councillor Posting YouTube Clips Of Council Meetings

from the copyright-as-censorship dept

We've pointed out how copyright is a tool for censorship before, and we're seeing more and more clearcut examples of that every day. The latest, via Boing Boing, involves a town Councillor in Brighton, England named Jason Kitcat, who had the rather useful idea of filming town meetings and posting the clips to YouTube. Democracy and transparency in action, and all that. Not so much according to the rest of the Council. They're claiming copyright infringement, and using it as an attempt to get him kicked off the council.

The reasoning is so ridiculous that I had to read it a few times to understand. It's not just a straight charge of copyright infringement. They're claiming that the Council meetings are the intellectual property of the Council... and thus "belong" to the Council as a "resource." They then highlight a point in the Council's code of conduct that "prohibits the use of resources (such as IT equipment) improperly for political purposes." The clear purpose behind that clause in the code of conduct is to prevent Councillors from using Council phones and computers for campaigning. But that's entirely different than posting video clips on a website for accountability and transparency purposes.

But, of course, this is the kind of end result that happens when you confuse copyright with property. And, the end result, either way, certainly appears to be pretty blatant censorship.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:04pm

    Not covered

    Council meetings are not covered by copyright.

    THe list of works covered is on this page. I can't find council meetings on there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:45pm

    While he may have the right to post those videos, I think Hershey's legal department will want to have a little chat with Mr, Kitcat .... mmmhm

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Ridiculous. It's a public meeting held on publicly-owned property.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 6:03pm

    Huh?

    Did he or did he not film these town council meetings himself? Granted I am in the US not the UK but does that not give HIM the copyright to the video?

    I just do not understand why people think they can get away with this crap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Ryan Diederich, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 6:08pm

    I believe...

    No form or way of speaking, talking, yelling, growling, whatever, should be copyrightable. It doesnt make any sense when you think about it.

    If it were court and it put someone in danger that would be something else.

    But this isnt, this is just evil political heads disliking the idea that people see what they are doing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 6:36pm

    If he used his own resources(his camera) to do the filming they have no copyright on that do they now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Lonny Paul, Sep 28th, 2010 @ 6:48pm

    The endless recourse could continue...

    If they have a law like that in California, they may need a "release" from each of the people in the video or it's a violation of their 'right of publicity.'

    Pulling the copyright claim is ridiculous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 7:45pm

    Re: Not covered

    Does the UK require a work to be fixed in form, as the US does? That would rule out meetings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:11pm

    Re: Huh?

    Did he or did he not film these town council meetings himself? Granted I am in the US not the UK but does that not give HIM the copyright to the video?

    They are likely trying to spin this the same way the Major League Baseball (MLB) in the US wants to claim copyright on every baseball game. Sure, they can legally copyright their original broadcast, but if I happen to sneak a camera into the game and record it myself and put it online for others to view or send out a summary of the game in my own words, there isn't anything MLB can legally do to me (except maybe tell me never to come back to the baseball field, and in doing so I'd be trespassing.)

    It is misleading and wrong, but copyright maximalists, greedy bastards, and censors still use it despite the fact that it is wrong as it is an exaggeration of claim. And those who don't have the money or the knowledge of the law to fight it usually back down. I wonder if there has been a study yet on the raw numbers of takedown notices sent to youtube for videos which could have been counter-claimed because of fair-use grounds or because they are original content, and yet not counter-claimed. It would be interesting to see how many of those were not fought because the person who received them was not aware they had good reasons to counter-claim or weren't interested in fighting it because they didn't want to spend money on a lawyer if the claimant ended up suing them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    TechDan (profile), Sep 28th, 2010 @ 9:30pm

    Re: The endless recourse could continue...

    I'm not sure how it works in the UK, but in the US, public figures like politicians are not subject to such privacies and as such, a release is not required to film a politician or public official when out in public.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 3:32am

    Point of order

    I've read through the case and
    (a) This councillor did not film the meeting.
    (b) Brighton council filmed the meeting and made it available as a free Webcast.
    (c) The councillor copied short extracts of the Webcast and made them available on YouTube.
    (d) Brighton Council sells DVDs of the meetings for £35.

    There are two issues:
    (1) whether posting a short extract from copyright video data is "fair use" under UK law (which doesn't have a codified form of this doctrine), not whether council meetings are copyright.
    (2) the value of the copyright material must be less than a penny, so the councillors making the complaint are making themselves look foolish and wasting taxpayers money

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Sean T Henry (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:59am

    Re:

    I know in the US at least that public meetings such as City council or even university Student government is to have the minutes recorded and available to the public. If the meeting is recorded the recordings must be retained or at least a transcript of the recording not doing so is illegal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    JustMe (profile), Sep 29th, 2010 @ 8:42am

    Town Council of Brighton, England

    Welcome to the Internets! Now everyone knows you are foolish.

    Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Idobek (profile), Oct 1st, 2010 @ 3:18am

    This really, really irritates me...

    I absolutely hate it when I have to side with Jason Kitkat, a man I disagree with on pretty much everything but who is also my representative to my local council. Arggghhh!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Cllr Jason Kitcat, Oct 1st, 2010 @ 11:42am

    Just to clarify...

    As Pete Austin correctly points out, I did not film the meetings, they are filmed by the council and put online. I just put excerpts of those films onto YouTube with full attribution explaining when and where they were from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Advertisement
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Support Techdirt - Get Great Stuff!

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.