Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Federal Liberal Party television ads released Jan. 10, 2006 attempt to portray Conservative Leader Stephen Harper as a scary extremist with close ties to the United States and the Bloc Quebecois.

We already knew that the Harper government loves negative advertising; we just didn't know, until now, how far it would go to eliminate any obstacle between itself and its object of desire.

The Harper government is examining the option of changing Canada's Copyright Act so that politicians can use news content in political advertising without asking for permission. Media don't like to see their footage and other copyrighted content in partisan ads, especially the negative type, since viewers might be left with the impression that a media outlet is complicit with a political party. Earlier this year, a group of broadcasters told the government they would no longer air political ads that use their content without their explicit consent.

It's easy to understand why the Conservatives don't care for the broadcasters' stance: In the heat of an election campaign, war-room apparatchiks don't want to deal with the niceties of copyright when they are in a hurry to twist an opponent's comment out of context in time for the next day's news cycle.

Story continues below advertisement

But a less myopic government could make an argument for the fair use of news footage without wielding so obnoxious a hammer. As the leaked document points out, while news outlets will vehemently protest the proposed exemption, there will be people who see it as a boon for free expression. Why shouldn't people make unfettered use of news images and clips of public figures in order to advance their points of view and denounce those of others? Isn't the news a public good?

Okay. So then why doesn't the government simply test the fair use provisions of the Copyright Act as it stands, rather than tweaking the rules in its favour? The answer may be that the government wants a monopoly on unfettered access to news content. The proposed exemption is limited to "publicly elected officials, party leaders, and those who intended to seek such positions," as well as to registered political parties and their agents. It does not extend to other groups that might have something to say during an election campaign. Unions, for instance. Or advocacy groups. Or individuals who want to go on YouTube and rail against the government.

It's this aspect of the government's secret proposal that is so unsettling. The Harper government wants to give itself free rein to fire off attack ads at will. It can hardly prevent the other parties from doing the same, but it doesn't want to see anyone else, yourself included, getting involved. That's a foul idea that should die a quick death.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies