Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, May 05, 2007

OA to presidential debate videos

A bipartisan coalition is calling on the Republican and Democratic National Committees to provide OA to the televised debates of the presidential candidates.  See the April 25 press release and blog post from Lawrence Lessig, lead organizer of the coalition.  Excerpt from the blog post:

While many rightly and fairly struggle over genuinely difficult copyright questions, it has been the strategy of some of us to push for solutions to obvious problems first. The place of copyright in political debate is one such obvious problem. Technology has exploded the opportunity for people to comment upon, and spread political speech. Democracy is all about encouraging citizens to participate in that debate. And all of us, whether Democrats or Republicans, should push to remove unnecessary burdens to that participation....

Unfortunately, however, the uncertainty about the scope of copyright regulation is increasingly one such burden on Internet political speech. This next political cycle will see an explosion of citizen generated political content. Some of that speech will be crafted from clips taken from the Presidential debates....[A]s the law is right now, it is extremely difficult for an ordinary citizen to understand the boundaries of “fair use” ....That uncertainty, if not checked, could produce a cloud over much of this political speech...[and] create a temptation by some politicians to invoke copyright law to block particularly effective speech critical of them.

[We] are therefore calling upon both major political parties to make this problem go away. Not by changing the law, or by supporting some expensive and time consuming litigation. But instead, by simply promising to require of any network broadcasting Presidential debates (at least) that they license the debates freely after they are initially broadcast — either by putting the debates into the public domain, or by permitting anyone to use or remix the contents of those debates, for any reason whatsoever, so long as there is attribution back to any purported copyright holder....

There is incentive enough for politicians to debate, and opportunity enough for broadcasters to carry those debates....

Since the campaign began, Barak Obama, John Edwards, and Chris Dodd have endorsed it. 

PS:  Kudos to Lessig for organizing it and to Obama, Edwards, and Dodd for their quick action.  We still have to hear from the other candidates and from the parties.  Will any say no?

Update. CNN has agreed to make all its broadcasts of the presidential debates available without restriction as soon as they air.

Update. Fox News has decided not to open up its broadcasts of the Republican debates.