House of Commons censors YouTube video

There have been some recent reports of Liberal Party activists filing DMCA copyright infringement notices with YouTube in order to censor videos critical of Stéphane Dion and the Liberal party. A month ago, Canuck Politics also received a DMCA notice from YouTube, but instead of YouTube user liberalvideo being listed as the rights-holder, my notice cited the Canadian House of Commons and the Board of Internal Economy as the party who made the request.

The video that was pulled from YouTube is now available here on this site. I have posed several videos on YouTube, all of which I believe are clear examples of fair dealing as provided in both Canadian and American copyright law, so I was surprised by the DMCA notice to say the least.

I believe the House of Commons has no legitimate interest in limiting the fair use of this material, and in doing so they are not living up to the intentions of Canada’s copyright act and in effect are limiting my freedom of speech. Hoping to clear this up, I contacted House of Commons and requested they reverse their action. My complaint has been acknowledged, but until now I have had no substantive response.

It began on March 22 with an email from YouTube; I didn’t get far before I knew I had a problem:

From: DMCA Notice []
Sent: March 22, 2007 5:05 PM
To: PrimarySource888
Subject: Video Removed: Copyright Infringement

YouTube | Broadcast Yourself�

Dear Member:

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Canadian House of Commons and the Board of Internal Economy claiming that this material is infringing:

Can Canada meet its Kyoto obligations?:

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube’s copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions. Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.

YouTube, Inc.

My first reaction was to Google “Board of Internal Economy” and I quickly found the Board’s membership on Parliament’s website. The Board is the internal administrative body of the House of Commons, it consists of nine Members of Parliament chaired by the Speaker of the House, and as far as I can tell they appear to be the legitimate rights-holder for all proceedings in the House and its committees. I sent this email to the Board members:

From: (withheld for privacy)
Sent: March 22, 2007 10:58 PM
To: ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’; ‘’
Subject: Board of Internal Economy is limiting my free speech
Importance: High

To: The Board of Internal Economy, Canadian House of Commons

Hon. Peter MILLIKEN Chair (Liberal)
Michel GUIMOND (Bloc)
Jay HILL (Conservative)
James MOORE (Conservative)
Joe PRESTON (Conservative)
Hon. Karen REDMAN (Liberal)
Hon. Lucienne ROBILLARD (Liberal)
Hon. Peter VAN LOAN (Conservative)

Dear Board Members,

I am writing to you to express my concern over recent actions by the Board of Internal Economy limiting my free speech and fundamental freedoms.

This evening, I received the following notification from YouTube, the popular video sharing website, in regards to a video I posted on their site. YouTube has removed a video I posted due to a copyright infringement claim from the “Canadian House of Commons and Board of Internal Economy”. The entire email is below for your reference.

The video in question was called “Can Canada meet its Kyoto obligations?”, and it contained 3 minutes 39 seconds compiled footage of members’ statements during Question Period in the House of Commons on February 5, 2007, as broadcast by CPAC.

I posted the video for the purposes of education and public policy debate, and as such I consider use of this material “fair use” as defined by Canadian and American copyright law. The material is not being used for any commercial purpose, and my video accurately reflects what happened in the House that day. I believe this clearly demonstrates “fair use” of this material, and assert that the Board of Internal Economy has no legitimate interest in requesting the video be removed from the YouTube website. Surely the House of Commons is not damaged by my use of this material, and any widening of the public policy debate is in Canada’s best interest.

Further, I am gravely concerned that by taking this action, the Board of Internal Economy is limiting my free speech and fundamental freedoms set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

As members of the Board of Internal Economy, I ask you reverse this decision and take action to rectify by notifying YouTube that my video can be restored. Perhaps there was an error or misunderstanding regarding my video, or perhaps you will agree with my position after considering the question further. Either way, I would like to give the Board this first opportunity to rectify this situation.

Please note that I consider this issue of such importance I will feel compelled to seek a wider audience for my grievance if I have not at least had a response from the Board of Internal Economy within 1 week by March 30, 2007.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincere Regards,

After some back and forth with political staff in Liberal Speaker Peter Milliken’s office, I recieved this official response:

From: (name withheld)
Sent: March 30, 2007 10:38 AM
To: (name withheld)
Subject: Board of Internal Economy is limiting my free speech

Good afternoon (name withheld): This is to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail of March 23, 2007 entitled ‘Board on Internal Economy is limiting my free speech’. Please note that the matter will be brought to the attention of the Board of Internal Economy, so a response to the substantive issues you have raised will be available only after the Board has considered it.Have a nice day!

(name withheld)
Procedural Clerk
Board of Internal Economy
House of Commons

Ok good, an official response from the Clerk’s Office, not political staff. But then the line went dead so I wrote:

From: (name withheld)
Sent: April 13, 2007 5:04 PM
To: (name withheld)
Subject: RE: Board of Internal Economy is limiting my free speech

It has been a two weeks since your response, can you please let me know when I might expect the Board to reverse their action and allow my video on YouTube?


And the prompt reply first thing Monday morning:

From: (name withheld)
Sent: April 16, 2007 5:18 AM
To: (name withheld)
Subject: RE: Board of Internal Economy is limiting my free speech

Good morning:

The House of Commons resumes its activities today after two weeks of adjournment for Easter. The Board of Internal Economy meets today.

I’ll keep you posted.

Have a nice day!

So the House of Commons staff haven’t ignored my complaint, but I’m still waiting for a explanation or reversal of their action. Stay tuned …

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2 thoughts on “House of Commons censors YouTube video

  1. I hit a dead end with YouTube fairly quickly … they don’t arbitrate fair use issues, their policy is to pull a video without question if they receive a request from the rights-holder. I guess that makes sense from YouTube’s point of view. So its up to the rights holder to allow or challange use of their material.

  2. I hope you’ve been keeping YouTube apprised of the situation, and hopefully it’ll be resolved soon.

    I can thought, appreciate the Liberals point of view, because honestly, they do NOT appear competent, compelling, or credible.

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