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9 October 2014Copyright

Canada eyes free use of news content for politicians

The Canadian government is eyeing a shakeup of its copyright law that would allow political parties to use content published by news organisations in their promotional adverts without permission.

Planned by the Conservative Party of Canada, an amendment to the Copyright Act would be made to allow “free use of ‘news’ content in political advertisements intended to promote or oppose a politician or political party”.

The plans were detailed in a leaked party document obtained by news network CTV News.

If approved, the amendment would remove “the need for broadcasters to authorise the use of their news content”.

It would also force media outlets to run political adverts even if their own footage and content was used to promote a negative message.

The changes would be available for all “political actors.” and “publicly elected officials, party leaders and those who intend to seek such positions”, the document reportedly said.

According to the leaked document, news content would have to meet three criteria, CTV said.

It would have to be published or made available through TV broadcasts, be obtained from a news source including a television programme or newspaper, and would have to relate to a political issue.

The proposed legislation is included in an omnibus bill, a Conservative party bill covering a range of topics which is due to be introduced in Canada’s House of Commons in the next few weeks.

However, the document goes on to warn that the measure will be controversial.

“Given its legal and political complexity, and the speed with which the exception was developed, there may be unforeseen circumstances that create unintended consequences,” it said, before advising “a strong communications plan” is put in place.

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