The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. says it will remove two political journalists, including The National co-host Rosemary Barton, as applicants in a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed against the Conservative Party of Canada.
The CBC filed a legal application at the Federal Court on Thursday alleging that the Conservative Party and executive director Dustin Van Vugt had violated its copyright by using clips from CBC news programming in partisan advertising that appeared on a website, YouTube video and on Facebook. The Conservative ad was posted on Oct. 4 and removed on Oct. 10, after the CBC had complained. As well, the CBC took issue with the Conservatives using clips from last week’s English-language leaders’ debate that was organized by a consortium of news organizations that included the CBC.
The application filed in court listed CBC/Radio-Canada as one of three applicants in the lawsuit, along with high-profile political anchor Rosemary Barton – who was a co-moderator of the English leaders debate – and John Paul Tasker, a reporter in CBC’s parliamentary bureau.
On Saturday morning, the public broadcaster said it would remove those two journalists, who are reporting on the election, from taking part in the lawsuit.
“To be clear, CBC/Radio Canada was the driver of this process, not the journalists,” said a statement from CBC News editor-in-chief Jennifer McGuire and Luce Julien, the executive director of news and current affairs at Radio-Canada.
“CBC/Radio Canada named and added the journalists to the application because their images and content were used inappropriately. In order to avoid any confusion about the role of Rosemary Barton and John Paul Tasker we intend to file an amendment to remove their names as applicants when the court opens on Tuesday.”
The CBC said in its court application that having footage of the journalists in partisan ads could “leave a viewer with the impression that the journalists are themselves biased.”
On Friday, the Conservative Party argued its use of the TV clips fell under “fair dealing” allowed under the Copyright Act. The party also said that footage from the CBC should be more available to Canadians because it is funded by the federal government.
“The Conservative Party has grave concern that this decision was made on the eve of an election that CBC is to be covering fairly and objectively,” the party said in a statement. “The Conservative Party considers this a complete distraction in the final days of tightly contested election, and we will dispute this lawsuit fully.”