News: The High Court’s video debut

A month ago, the High Court announced that it would enter the video-publishing business, uploading videos of its Canberra hearings (other than special leave hearings) to its website. On Monday, the Court uploaded its first four videos to a new  ‘recent AV recordings‘ entry under its webpage‘s ‘cases’ menu.  The Court’s prediction that the recordings’ availability would be ‘initially likely to be a few business days after hearings’ was too ambitious; it took eight business days for video for the first eligible hearing (BCM v R, including the bonus issuing of judgments in Bugmy and Munda) to be uploaded. However, the most recent hearing of the session (Karpany v Dietman) took just three business days, confirming its prediction that ‘[t]his delay is likely to be reduced as Court experience grows.’

Interestingly, the new page sets out, for the first time, the Court’s ‘terms of use’, which indicate that none of its videos will be going viral anytime soon:

Access to the audio-visual recordings of the Court is subject to the following conditions:

(1) You will not record, copy, modify, reproduce, publish, republish, upload, post, transmit, broadcast, rebroadcast, store, distribute or otherwise make available, in any manner, any proceeding or part of any proceeding, other than with prior written approval of the Court. However, schools and universities may broadcast/rebroadcast proceedings in a classroom setting for educational purposes without prior written approval.

(2) The audio-visual material available via our web-site of Court proceedings does not constitute the offcial record of the Court.

(3) Copyright of the footage of the proceedings is retained by the Court.

By clicking “I agree/play” (when available), you agree to be bound by these terms of use.

These terms restrict more than just contemporary social media, such as youtube. It appears that television stations who wish to show a ‘soundbite’ from a High Court hearing in a news or current affairs show will need express permission from the Court. The website does not indicate any policy on when and on what terms that permission will be granted.

Terms and conditions restricting republication without permission appear on the video-streaming pages of the UK Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Canada. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, there do not appear to be any similar restrictions on the United States Supreme Court’s audio hearings webpage.) However, when it comes to schools and universities, the High Court is less restrictive than its UK and Canadian counterparts. I took advantage of the Court’s handy standing permission for the educational use of its videos in classroom settings in my Criminal Law and Procedure class this Monday morning, within hours of the first video being uploaded (perhaps making me the first ever person to do so?)

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About Jeremy Gans

Jeremy Gans is a Professor in Melbourne Law School, where he researches and teaches across all aspects of the criminal justice system. He holds higher degrees in both law and criminology. In 2007, he was appointed as the Human Rights Adviser to the Victorian Parliament's Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee.