Canadian Broadcaster Accused of Censoring Copyright Debate

Call it ironic if you will, but there’s a report surfacing that a Canadian broadcaster is taking down YouTube clips that debate copyright because of copyright violations. A blogger watching this unfold figured that because the debates show the copyright industries stance in a bad light, the broadcaster wants to suppress the clips.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

There are plenty of ways to see this as ironic. By actively trying to remove the clips in the first place, it brings more publicity to those clips in the first place. If the accusation turns out to be true, it also highlights a perfect example of when copyright can be used to suppress free speech. the video clips have since been placed back up onto not only YouTube, but another video sharing site as well. Those clips and commentary on the matter can be found on the Canadian Coalition for Electronic Rights.

“Over a year ago,” the blog posting says, “following the introduction of Bill C-61 we posted two videos to YouTube relating to Canadian copyright reform. These videos originally aired on the Business News Network formerly Report on Business TV. One video featured Canadian copyright scholar/expert Howard Knopf squaring off against Stevan Mitchell of the Entertainment Software Association (Howard Knopf Coming To The Defense Of Canadian Consumers — YouTube).”

“The second video featured professor Jeremy de Beer sparring with CRIA lobbyist, Barry Sookman over the implications of Bill C-61 (Jeremy de Beer & Barry Sookman On Bill C-61 — YouTube). On June 22, 2009 YouTube notified us that these videos had been removed citing a copyright complaint from The Business News Network.” The posting continued.

“Just a few days prior to our videos being pulled Jesse Hirsh tweeted that YouTube had just pulled one of his videos.” The posting explained, adding, “A BNN clip which had Jesse taking on a CRIA representative (Jesse Hirsh on RoBTV Regarding BitTorrent — YouTube). What was happening? Was BNN demanding every clip posted on YouTube be taken down or were they targeting clips relating to Canadian copyright reform only? A quick search of YouTube would indicate the latter.”

Copyright is a touchy subject for many Canadians. It’s, in part, why Bill C-60 and Bill C-61 died on the order paper and the issue hasn’t, so far, been resurrected by the current government. Many in Canada know how copyright can affect their day-to-day lives and any bill that encroaches on their rights, such as through anti-circumvention measures, can easily be seen as a threat at this point. It’s not hard to imagine the foreign interests who want to push for tighter copyright laws are not happy about the situation.

It’s not hard to see this latest development as an attempt to try and change the debate in Canada – at this point, a failed attempt that could backfire. Still, there’s little doubt that if the clips in question are removed again, they’ll find their way on other sites as well.

Update: BNN has refuted these accusations.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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