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Department of National Defence Uses Crown Copyright To Demand Removal of Leaked Document

The Department of National Defence is using crown copyright to demand the removal of a leaked government document that has been widely discussed and posted on the Internet. At issue is the Canadian Land Force Counter-Insurgency Operations Manual, which the Globe's Doug Saunders described as "Canada's military manual and operational manifesto for the Afghanistan war." The document was first leaked by Wikileaks in August 2009 and remains available from that site. It was subsequently reposted in several places, including on the PublicIntelligence.net site and on Scribd (the Globe appears to have posted it there).

Earlier this month, the Department of National Defence sent a demand email to the Public Intelligence site seeking removal of the document. It is not clear whether similar demands have been sent to Wikileaks and Scribd. The demand states:

We believe that the copyright protected work of the Department of National Defence (DND) is being provided to the public through your website in a manner that constitutes copyright infringement.

The demand email continues by arguing that the document was not obtained under Access to Information and, even if it was, that ATIA does not permit widespread distribution of documents in violation of the Copyright Act. The Canadian government has altered its approach to the restrictions on publishing public documents by granting permission to reproduce government works for personal or public non-commercial purposes without the need for prior permission. In this instance, however, DND presumably believes that the document itself was made available without authorization and that the permissive licence does not apply.

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