CBC News advertising board, CBC Broadcast Centre, Toronto, Southern Ontario, Canada by Pranav Bhatt (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9HBz23

CBC News advertising board, CBC Broadcast Centre, Toronto, Southern Ontario, Canada by Pranav Bhatt (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/9HBz23


CBC Sues the Conservative Party of Canada for Copyright Infringement Citing Campaign Video, Posting Debate Excerpts on Twitter

The CBC has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Conservative Party over the use of clips on its Not As Advertised website and the use of debate clips on its Twitter feed. The lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court, claims that a campaign video titled “Look at What We’ve Done” contained multiple excerpts from CBC programming in violation of copyright law. Moreover, the CBC also cites tweets that included short video clips of between 21 seconds and 42 seconds from the English-language leaders’ debate. The CBC argues that posting those clips on Twitter also constitutes copyright infringement.

The lawsuit appears to have an immediate effect. The video was moved to a private setting on YouTube on the day the lawsuit was filed and the tweets were deleted. The CBC is still seeking a declaration that the Conservatives violated the Copyright Act (including violating the moral rights of CBC journalists  Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker) and an injunction barring the use of CBC material to infringe copyright.

The CBC argues that these uses constitute copyright infringement and do not qualify as fair dealing. Its claim is based on an odd collection of unconvincing arguments, including the notion that clips from the debate might lead someone to think that the CBC is biased, contrary to its obligations under the Broadcasting Act. The lawsuit notes that this is not the first time the CBC has claimed copyright infringement with Conservative ads, citing a 2015 claim.

The CBC obviously has rights as the copyright owner in its broadcast, but those rights are constrained by limitations and exceptions under the law that allow for use of its work without the need for further permission. The CBC itself (like all broadcasters) regularly relies upon those exceptions to use the work of others without permission. There are strong fair dealing arguments in favour reasonable usage. Moreover, the claim over short clips over debate footage is enormously troubling, considering both the importance of broad dissemination of the debate and the fact that the debate involves little specific contribution for any individual broadcaster. CBC has an unfortunate history of overzealous use of copyright to stifle freedom of expression and that approach appears to have reared its head yet again as the 2019 campaign hits the home stretch.


  1. The CBC doing its master’s bidding. Scheer should sue for election interference in return.

    • lol except that would go no where because the CPC here actually broke the law and CBC hasent. Your feels mean nothing.

      • Oh so you’ve made your decision Judge Travis? When will the written ruling be made public?

      • Ryan Spinney says:

        I’m no supporter of the CPC, I vote NDP, but they broke no laws, and they parties have ever right especially to use the footage of THEIR Debate, the debates were about them for the benifit the general public, it belongs to the parties as far as I’m concerned, not the CBC. People watch the debates for the parties not the CBC, and the CBC crossed the line this time.

        • Given the funding provided to operate by the Canadian tax payer it’s out information. Not the CBC’s

      • The CBC has previously failed to defend itself when the Liberals and NDP have used similar clips in previous elections. They’re neither protecting their brand or copyright, and any judge is going to see that this is targeted.

      • The Taxpayer funds CBC. We own CBC their chit is Our chit!
        The CBC should be shut down now, trying to cripple a political Party. Wow what has Trudeau done to this country!

      • No they haven’t. You’d better read the rules of elections Canada VERY carefully. You are wrong and you are the go. Do your research before spouting false facts.

  2. They need to get the hell over. It. Nothing better to do?????

  3. With the amount of subsidy the CBC gets the videos should belong to every citizen. We bought and paid for them many times over.

    • amen to that. LIberal producers of CBC think they own the footage rights of CBC shows….free loaders unbelievable

  4. can’t believe this story, omg, the cbc must be getting desperate because their little boy toy is losing the federal election.

  5. Kelly Manning says:

    Editing a longer video can leave a false impression by removing context. Back when my parents used to to watch hockey games in the 1 channel days CBC used to include a notice that the video of the game was the property of “the advertisers”. Does the CBC still make that sort of disclaimer about any of its material?

    When Richard Feynman started speculating about “lots of room at the bottom” print publishers started hedging their bets by having a disclaimer at the front saying that the content could not be reproduced in microfiche or in digital format. If you are going to try and enforce a claim it is best to be clear up front about your assertion of copyright.

  6. CBC Liberal producers do NOT own footage of any CBC show. The taxpayers of Canada own it. and if the Conservative party wants to use it for Conservative party ads – so be it.

    • The taxpayers of Canada may own the CBC, but this does not mean that footage produced by the CBC can be used by anyone or any body. On a related note, allow me to point out the obvious: the Conservative Party of Canada is not a taxpayer.

      • are you for real? who do think comprises of the conservative party of Canada? Russians? or CDN tax payers?
        if we want to use footage of CBC news or CBC nature of things – for political purposes or educational – all power to us! that is our resource. i’m not sure if you are a tax payer or just another confused free loading progressive.

        • I am for real, Robert. I posted using my full name, my own image, and a link through which I might be contacted. You? The fact stated could not have been expressed more clearly: the Conservative Party of Canada is not a taxpayer.

          Let’s pretend, for a moment, that the CPC does pay taxes. Would that give it free range to use CBC material as it sees fit? Bell Media pays taxes, and has Canadian taxpayers as investors; should that give CTV the right to air the National?

          Your questioning as to whether I pay taxes is absurd. Infants and toddlers aside, all Canadians pay taxes.

          • All Canadians pay taxes? Absurd and moronic. I’m accountant and tax preparer, CPA. Not all Canadians pay federal (or provincial) taxes since your 1st 12K is tax free, and those making 20 to 50K don’t much pay in fed income taxes. Federal taxes is what funds the CBC. Neither do all Canadians pay municipal taxes since renters and free loaders don’t pay municipal (property) tax. So your knowledge of our tax system shows how clueless you are.
            footage from a political debate is not property of CBC (or CTV / Bell). It should be available to anyone. Andrew Sheer participated in the debate. he has rights to it to as well. what are you so scared of? Do you want more tax payer money? The CBC didn’t make the debate, you only turned on a tax funded camera. the content, questions all come from Canadians.

        • Every Canadian pays GST or HST, a value added tax on goods and services with a few exemptions, which goes into the general government coffers. Everyone pays taxes in Canada. They may get a rebate, they may get a tax credit, but they still have to pay. It is disingenuous of you to suggest that poor people pay no tax.

          Copyright law also makes it clear that even though the CBC is partially publicly-funded, the material they produce is covered by copyright and not public domain. That copyright is limited by the Fair Dealing provisions within copyright law (Section 29) but those Fair Dealing provisions do not say that you or anyone can treat CBC material as public domain.

          • the poor pay no (LITTLE income taxes). yes, they pay Consumption taxes on alcohol, smokes and lottery, but when you compare this to someone who is making 80K a year or more, they pay NOTHING !! and they get benefits for being poor (child benefits, welfare).
            copyright?? c’mon man. CBC didn’t produce a movie or show. It’s Canadians and politicans making the stew (debate) for which they never were compensated. Like I said, all the CBC did was turn on their tax payer funded camera and hook it to the cable / internet lines, and the CBC staff got paid (salary, benefits) for their efforts. They don’t own the product, just like I don’t own the oxygen that comes from the 300 trees I have planted on my property the last 3 years.

        • MURRAY ROSSWORN says:

          The cbc is biased in favor of Trudeau. Simple. No debate.

          • And I didn’t need to see the Conservatives’ ad to agree with you about CBC bias, Murray. They back pedalled pretty quickly to get the individuals removed from the claim once the backlash started.

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  8. Michael Scott says:

    It’s not even using just the CBC’s footage and Rosemary Barton doesn’t say much at all in the video


  9. Vaudree Lavallee says:

    This is more related to political interference than the CPC per see. Anne with an E fans are freaking out at the CBC severing their relationship with Netflix and what it means for a season 4. The 2 newspaper articles they cite – one of them the Post seems to indicate that Gem will compete against Hulu, Google and Amazon for streaming. Question: Can the CBC sell off Gem? Is that the real plan? Is Gem a separate entity than the CBC who used to stream their shows on years before there was a Gem? Could the severing with Netflix be to appease Quebecers but the real plan be to sell Gem off to Google, which the Liberals are friendly with, or someone else? Could you look in and see what is really going on?

  10. There’s an odd splice at 1:32 in the video. The woman in the background jumped position.

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  12. I was going through the complaint myself. I agree with Geist that the complaint hinges on a series of unconvincing complaints. Reading the complaint, they contend that as one of their examples, the party used 42 seconds of a clip from the leaders debate and said that this constitutes a “qualitative significant portion” of the debate. How exactly? The leaders debate was 2 hours long. Can anyone explain to me how 0.583% of a whole body of work is considered a “significant portion”?

    I speak as someone who leans NDP and Green and I don’t see how the CBC has a case here.

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