Collateral Censorship: Oxford Union Replaces Assange Speech Backdrop, Citing 'Copyright' Concerns
from the wrong-on-so-many-levels dept
It's bad enough that the Oxford Union digitally replaced the backdrop. However, even worse is the ridiculous excuse it gave. In response to Wikileaks' accusations, the Oxford Union claimed it replaced the image because it didn't want to violate the copyright in the video:
After taking extensive legal advice on this matter, the Union was advised not to display the background video in question for copyright reasons.This is bogus on so many levels. First off, and most importantly, the video itself is a "work" of the US government, and as such is simply not protected by copyright law. Rather it is definitively in the public domain as per Section 105 of the Copyright Act. And, of course, even if it was subject to copyright, it would still be a ridiculous claim. There would be obvious fair use in merely showing a single still image from a longer video, especially given the context of the use and the speech. And, yes, this is in the UK, rather than the US, but even under UK "fair dealing" concepts, this would almost certainly be considered fair dealing.
Ridiculously, when Wikileaks explained this to the Oxford Union, it shot back with an even more confused response, focusing on the fact that nothing was "censored" and that this was all about "respecting copyright."
We would like to point out that none of the speeches made during the evening in question were 'censored'; neither was any part of the Q&A sessions.Except, that's not true. As Wikileaks has made clear, the image was an important part of the expression he was making -- and just because you use a visual, that does not mean that it does not count as a form of speech. But the bigger joke is the idea that this has anything, whatsoever, to do with "respecting" copyright. If you "respect" copyright, you understand the difference between what's in the public domain and what's not, and you don't claim you blocked public domain material to respect the copyright. That's the opposite of respecting copyright. It's bastardizing copyright for the purpose of stifling expression.
Mr Assange's speech was broadcast in its entirety, and as such we would encourage people to appreciate the distinction between censorship and respecting copyright.