February 26, 2007 · Lessig
You may have been reading about the recent spat involving C-Span and Speaker Pelosi over copyright and the Congressional Record. Well, longtime champion of many things great — Carl Malamud — has been building a bit of a hack to deal with at least part of the problem.
As he explains, video of Congress engaged in its official business comes in three flavors:
“1. the floor proceedings, which uses government cameras and
everybody (including c-span) pretty much allows folks to grab.
2. hearings that c-span does, which they tightly defend copyright on.
3. the stuff the committees puts directly on the web.”
Many of us believe that if C-Span wants to exercise control over the stuff it films — as it has in many documentaries I have helped with — then it’s time we find someone else to build a Congressional Record that “the people” can use.
Carl has been building a hack to do just that. As (1) has pretty much taken care of itself, and (2) requires Congress giving access to hearings to entities that won’t leverage that access into control (not likely anytime soon), he’s focused on (3). The current problem with (3) is that the content (filmed using government cameras, just as with (1)) is offered sometimes “live only,” and otherwise in a streaming format only. Carl has built some tools for “ripping all congressional streams starting with the house and posting them in a nonproprietary format for download, tagging, review, and annotation at Google Video and another copy at the Internet Archive.”
Read more at Boing Boing.
But all this raises a much more fundamental question.
As more and more “notice and take-downs” get directed at people doing political remixes of candidates and their speeches, it’s time for a candidate to take the lead to assure that the web can be used for politics (without the mess of copyright). What about a pledge not to appear on a program that won’t promise not to prosecute people who do remixes (as opposed to simply distributing the whole show)? (That’s three negatives in one sentence — go slowly.)
Let’s see who is really for (and who has the courage to support) freeing political speech.