Friday, August 17, 2012

Canadian Space Agency Shuts Down Frenchwoman's FaceBook Fan Page

On the heels of recent budget cuts, which have shrunk the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) public outreach capabilities and the well known restrictions on Federal government departments using social media, it seems odd to find someone within the beleaguered agency intent on discouraging enterprising third parties from publicizing Canadian space accomplishments and capabilities.

Screenshot from the official CSA facebook page at showing the recent jump in fans in early August 2012. Screenshot c/o Facebook.

Unfortunately, this does seem to be what we've found.

Someone within the CSA, acting on behalf of the CSA, has filed a formal complaint with social networking site FaceBook, over an independent CSA fan page in order to protect CSA "copyrighted logos, identifiers and intellectual property." This complaint has led to the shutting down of the fan site even though the specifics of any CSA "intellectual property" referenced in the complaint have not been publicly identified.

Another CSA fan page. Graphic c/o CSA Fans Group.
Even better, according to shuttered fan site co-administrator Catherine Laplace-Builhe in her new facebook page, titled "petition online to reinstate the fan page Canadian Space Agency" the CSA hasn't just simply shut down her advocacy site. Laplace-Builhe also feels that the CSA has "stolen" the 7770 supporting fans from her site and added those fans to the far smaller listing of 600 fans on the formal CSA administered Facebook page.

A second Facebook Canadian Space Agency fan page, covering much the same topics, also containing CSA logos and links to various CSA press releases but with only 300 or so Facebook fans, so far remains operational.

According to an August 16th, 2012 e-mail received from CSA representative Julie Simard, the independent fan site was shut down by Facebook, which "followed their established procedures" when responding to the CSA complaint. According to the referenced Facebook procedures:
When we (Facebook) receive a a claim of copyright infringement from a third party alleging that content on the site infringes their copyright, we may need to immediately remove or disable access to that material on Facebook without notice to you (the site administrator). We are not in a position to adjudicate disputes between parties.
According to Simard, the migration of fans to the CSA administered Facebook page was also not the CSA's responsibility. "The Facebook Pages Terms clearly states that “all migrations are at (their) discretion” states Simard. According to the Facebook page terms "only authorized representatives may administer a Page for a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure."

However, the Facebook Page Terms also indicates that "any user may create a Page to express support for or interest in a brand, entity (place or organization), or public figure, provided that it is not likely to be confused with an official Page or violate someone's rights."

It seems hard to believe that the fan page could be confused with the official CSA Facebook page, especially given the obvious disparities between the amount of fans on the two sites.

Catherine Laplace-Builhe from Google+
Laplace-Builhe, who lives in Paris, works at a travel agency with strong connections to the growing space tourism industry and administers a variety of Facebook and other sites focusing on European, Japanese and Canadian space science activities (including the online Cat Laplace Builhe Daily), has had previous problems with Facebook and its ill defined copywrite rules.

As outlined in my August 23rd, 2010 "this Week in Space for Canada" post, her Facebook CSA fan site was also temporarily disabled in 2010 as a result of a complaint from photographer Anthony Ayiomamitis relating to improper attribution of the June 20th, 2008 NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.

But she's also a member in good standing of the growing online media, which is comprised of sites like (and the affiliated site) the Space Politics blog, the Space Review website, Clark Lindsay's HobbySpace blog (which recently morphed into the subscription service NewSpace Watch), the service and quite a few others (including the site you are reading now) which increasingly define, disseminate and drive the media coverage in this area.

Right now, there is no indication of whether the CSA decision to shut down the fan site was taken at the senior level or at a junior level. But its summer and most senior CSA people are on vacation. Once those senior heads get back to the office, they'll likely realize that the wisest move for the CSA right now might just be to stand back and allow new media experts like Laplace-Builhe to carry on with what they know best and continue promoting Canadian space activities.

1 comment:

  1. What a shame that was. I was a fan of hers. Now I don't get any thing worth while.


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