Rights re: Proceedings of the House of Representatives
July 27, 2010 6:02 PM   Subscribe

"Proceedings of the House of Representatives, including any recording of such proceedings, may not be used for any political purpose or in any commercial advertisement, and may not be broadcast with commercial sponsorship except as part of a bona fide news program or public affairs documentary program," according to houselive.gov. Why and how would or could this possibly be?!
posted by finite to Law & Government (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Incumbents, who write the rules, want to retain control of their images; more specifically, they don't want to be rebroadcast saying something out of context in an opponent's 30-second spot. To say nothing of being rebroadcast saying something stupid.
posted by Mr. Justice at 6:06 PM on July 27, 2010


The senate has a similar rule. A brief disclaimer goes up on C-SPAN2 in the morning before the senate proceedings begin airing.

I believe the rule has something to do with senators/representatives (mis)using the services of the videographers and TV/Radio studios for obliquely political purposes. A similar rule exists that prohibits politicians from using the studios 2 months prior to an election in which they are running, as "obliquely political purposes" is a rather fine line even at the best of times.
posted by schmod at 6:25 PM on July 27, 2010


schmod & Mr. Justice seem to have covered why.

A wild guess, could the how be derived from the Speech or Debate Clause? A legislator is immune from such things as libel, perhaps they're also (claiming to be) immune from political attacks, for what they say in the Legislature?
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:31 PM on July 27, 2010


I suppose I could've guessed at the why and how as this applies to campaign ads, since I realize there are all sorts of weird campaign laws, but this seems to be trying to prohibit non-campaign-related commercial uses too.

My question here is: is there actually any law that lets congress prevent [non-campaign-related] commercially-sponsored rebroadcasts of their proceedings?

Also, what constitutes a "bona fide news program"? (Could satire be considered "bona fide news"?)
posted by finite at 7:22 PM on July 27, 2010


My suspicion is that if someone did use that material in that way, it wouldn't really be possible to prevent them. The First Amendment would be the operating principle.

But if that happened, then the House and Senate would turn off the cameras. Everyone knows this, and no one wants that to happen, so they don't push it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:45 PM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this is not a matter of copyright, but of Congressional rules:

Coverage of House Floor and Committee Proceedings. Broadcast coverage and recordings of House floor proceedings may not be used for any political purpose under House Rule 5, clause 2(c)(1). In addition, under House Rule 11, clause 4(b), radio and television tapes and film of any coverage of House committee proceedings may not be used, or made available for use, as partisan political campaign material to promote or oppose the candidacy of any person for public office.

Additionally, the copyright of video broadcast by C-SPAN seems to exist in a lightly-tested gray area.
posted by dhartung at 9:52 PM on July 27, 2010


Yes, but House Rules are not the law. You or I don't have to follow them, even if we run for governor.
posted by grobstein at 10:11 PM on July 27, 2010


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