UPDATE: Oxford Union Respond To Assange

Oxford Union respond to Assange and boost The Tab’s ego by calling us ‘cute’.

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The Oxford Union has released a statement in response to censorship claims regarding Julian Assange’s recent video address to the Union.

WikiLeaks claimed on Twitter that the Union had deliberately blurred the background of the video in fear of copyright infringement on the US government.

Assange addressed the Union via video link

A statement given to The Tab by the Oxford Union stated: “we would encourage people to appreciate the distinction between censorship and respecting copyright.”

The footage, said to have been personally selected by Assange himself, came from a controversial video released by WikiLeaks in 2010. Commonly referred to as ‘Collateral Murder’, it depicts a US Apache helicopter firing on journalists and civilians in Baghdad in 2007.

The original background showed the ‘Collateral Murder’ video

What the ‘censored’ version put out online looked like

The whistleblowing organisation has suggested via Twitter that the Union’s account for editing the footage of Mr. Assange’s talk is “provably [sic] bogus.” When contacted for comment over this statement, the Union told The Tab, “When it comes to copyright law we don’t take risks… We received [legal] advice and we followed that advice.”

However, it appears that the reasons given by the Oxford Union bear little scrutiny. After its release in 2010, the footage received widespread global publicity; both a report on the video and the video itself appeared on the homepage of the Daily Telegraph without the slightest repercussions. Indeed, the paper continues to host the video online.

WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson told The Tab: “It is general knowledge that any material from the US government does not fall under copyright law.

“I’m not sure using copyright issues is an excuse to blur out this important video; I would be very interested to see the legal advice, I’m sure the quality would be very low.”

Kristinn Hrafnsson: sees straight through the excuses?

Even if the US Government could, in theory, claim copyright in the video outside the USA, it has no record of doing so and would be unlikely to risk further embarrassment by doing so.

The Oxford Union were a little less amicable when approached for further comment. A spokesman for the Union told The Tab: “I find it cute that The Tab is so interested in our legal advice.”

Whilst the The Tab is flattered by such high praise, we would point out this: a ‘bastion of free speech’ trying to garner publicity by inviting the loose cannon that is Assange, and then not having the guts to follow through on freedom of expression is a bit weak.

You can’t have it both ways.