The UK Supreme Court is publishing video of its proceedings on its website in a video on demand service. This is welcome. What is baffling is the decision to remove the videos after a year both for copyright, capacity and possibly cost reasons:
‘Footage will remain available for approximately one year after the court hearing, before being removed to make way for new cases. For copyright reasons, users will not be able to download the footage for long term storage or editing.
‘The on-demand archive complements the Court’s streaming service enabling hearings to be broadcast live from any of its three courtrooms, including sittings of the JCPC. Approximately 15,000 people have used this service each month since it was launched in October 2014.
‘The new service will be funded by the Supreme Court until March 2016, at which point it will be reviewed in light of user feedback and the Court’s other spending priorities.’
I can’t quite grasp what the ‘copyright reasons’ could be – it’s an open court for heavens sake where hearings are designed to be in the public domain. And Crown Copyright is a permissive licence – essentially allowing free re-use – or were HMCTS naive enough to let a contract for videoing that gave rights to the videographer of this fundamental public process? As for cost and capacity the internet is big enough to host this sort of thing – on .gov.uk as a trivial expenditure (yes, i know about separation of powers) or at the British Library. Or if the video was published as public domain then many law schools would vie to host the archive.
This sort of baffling inability to get the internet and how it works is at the heart of Martha Lane Fox’s ‘doteveryone‘ and Tony Ageh’s Digital Public Space at the BBC. If the Crime and Justice Sector Transparency Panel reconvenes after the election I shall raise this.
My erstwhile colleague Andrew Stott is making enquiries on this. He says:
The Supreme Court have announced today that they are making available videos of hearings . However the press release says that “For copyright reasons, users will not be able to download the footage for long term storage or editing.”
An example of a video is at . The page says that it is “© Crown Copyright 2015”. However in a note on the page it says “This footage is made available for the sole purpose of the fair and accurate reporting of the judicial proceedings of The UK Supreme Court. Although you are welcome to view these proceedings, the re-use, capture, re-editing or redistribution of this footage in any form is not permitted.” (Comment: that’s a different set of restrictions!)
The terms and conditions link is to  which says that the material is Crown Copyright and refers people to the National Archives, but then seems to set its own terms and conditions without reference to TNA approved licensing such as the Open Government Licence.
Seen from here this Crown Copyright material in open court should be openly available under the Open Government Licence.
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