Daily Show episode banned in UK

from Boing Boing

Graham Linehan (co-creator of such beloved TV as Father Ted and The IT Crowd) asked Channel 4 why they hadn’t aired the most recent Daily Show in the UK, given that the episode deals with the News of the World scandal. The answer he got floored him: as it is against the law in the UK to use Parliamentary footage for satirical purposes, the Daily Show episode in question couldn’t be aired here.

The issue is Parliamentary Copyright, a weird concept in UK law that gives Parliament (not the public) ownership over its publications, utterances, and so on. Parliamentary copyright means that it’s illegal to print books containing complete records of Parliament without Parliament’s permission (contrast this with the US, where anything produced by the federal government is presumptively in the public domain, belonging to all people).

We tend to think of Parliamentary Copyright as a kind of innocuous peccadillo — after all, the Clerk of Parliament gave a license (retroactively) to the activists who made They Work For You, the best-of-breed Parliamentary tracker and activist tool. But this shows what happens when politicians, and not the people, own the record of government: Britons are denied access to commentary on their national news because there’s no way an American TV show will know or care enough about Parliamentary Copyright to get a license to use clips in its shows in case the shows are exported to the UK.

Here is the episode.


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  • What’s odd is that despite Stewart praises the British Parliamentary systems for holding the Executive to account the show is banned – you’d think that the Speaker would want it shown.

  • thor42

    Yes, the US system that is mentioned here (where anything produced by the US govt is public-domain) is **much** better.
    This is yet another example of the UK govt getting things wrong. That country is **seriously** screwed up.

  • orange

    “The dingos will eat well tonight.” Oh Jon Stewart is soooo funny making fun of his aussi accent and using David Letterman facial expressions. What a king of comedy. Maybe the UK govt made the move just for public mental heath reasons.

  • jabba

    that was pretty good and yes, the dingos are eating well.
    I guess Rups does NOT have a sign saying “the buck stops here” on his desk.

  • mediatart

    Apparently News of the World got their lawyers to write a letter saying ‘one or two bad apples’ despite having evidence the paper was paying off police amoung other crimes

    The managing partner and partner responsible for the News International business said ‘he didnt know that paying off police was a criminal offence’

    Its the Schultze defence – I know noooothing’