March 8, 2007  ·  Lessig

C-Span has announced that it will make “video of congressional hearings white house and other federal events” available under a license that requires ATTRIBUTION, and limited to NONCOMMERCIAL use. The press release indicates C-Span will “borrows from the approach to copyright known in the online community as ‘Creative Commons.’”

We’re happy to share.

Should they be even more liberal? The Kos says yes. More of course would be better. But first steps are progress, and deserve sincere praise.

  • three blind mice

    heh. just a few days ago c-span was being lambasted on this site for asserting their copyright. now, we note, that they are STILL asserting their copyright, albeit in a different way, and this makes them “big and great.”

    we are pleased that c-span has the right TO DECIDE THEMSELVES what to do with the content they own. this right is vital to all artists, authors, and creators. you cannot legitimately promote CC licenses without believing in this right and any “sincere praise” of c-span is not sincere without it.

    as for the daily kos…

    Having given it some quick thought, I still don’t think this goes far enough. These are GOVERNMENT hearings, they should be in the public domain, not “owned” by C-SPAN, no matter how liberal the license might be. Floor video is already public domain because the government owns the cameras. The House and Senate should kick out C-SPAN’s cameras from committee hearings and force them to use government-owned cameras. That way, those deliberations are in the public domain.

    quick thoughts indeed.

    the deliberations ARE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN, the recordings are not. what is so hard to understand about that? kicking out c-span’s cameras and putting the government in charge means that you put your trust in government to faithfully record its actions. no thanks.

  • underwhatsit

    Mice,

    I was intrigued by your response; I haven’t followed this story closely but I find your comments illuminating. Carl Malamud seems to be making the point in his letter that the government (i.e. public, more or less) puts a significant amount of money and assistance into the operation of C-Span, and the government has the option (perhaps the right? but I often find it difficult to think of the “rights” of the government with a straight face, much less a clear head) to put strings on the continued reception of said “largess,” including requirements that some amount of content be placed into the public domain.

    Even before reading your comment I viewed C-Spans action as (potentially) a bit manipulative – that C-Span perceived political threat that could lead to action by the government (the said “strings” above) that would could constrain their ability to operate in the future. If it’s the latter, then a CC license, as you said, completely affirms their copyright and control over their recorded content while (apparently) taking the wind out of the sails of many of their opponents – so if that is the case, that was some great politics by C-Span (I suppose they learn from the best every day).

    By far the point that resonated most with me is the idea that having C-Span be as independent of the government as possible is a good thing – if Congress gets in the habit of putting constraints on C-Span that make free-content folks happy, then Congress is unlikely to stop there. So even if C-Span did a cynical thing, I think the public interest was also served, not only because of the content’s increaced availability, but because they (appear to have) resolved an issue in a way that (appears to have) affirmed their independence.

  • three blind mice

    then a CC license, as you said, completely affirms their copyright and control over their recorded content while (apparently) taking the wind out of the sails of many of their opponents

    this is why this is such a great affirmation of the need for CC type licenses. in our view, CC isn’t about “freedom” or “sharing” – it’s all about control and having the right/freedom to decide how one’s (in this case) recorded content is copied, distributed, and used. that’s right sport’s fans: a creative commons license is using big, bad, evil copyright.

    ironically, the government grant of copyright may be the best and only tool one has to prevent the government – or fox news – from distorting, deleting, and misrepresenting the things government does. we would bet that not even the most radical opponent of copyright would want scooter libbey doing the rip, mix and burn of c-span recordings.

  • icecow

    The government has an implicit responsibility to make video coverage available in the public domain. The costs of setting up video cameras, maintaining, and staff them is negligible.

    The more out in open the video cameras become, the easier it is to detect a scooter libbey trying to do a rip, mix and burn.

    Outside cameras should be allowed coverage. Those who are willing to have their independent coverage enter the public domain should have priority access over independents that won’t; doing so serves the American people better. There is no reason to believe there will be a shortage of independents who are willing to accept the public domain terms, and those willing independents are naturally more suited for the job.

  • Jonathan

    “ironically, the government grant of copyright may be the best and only tool one has to prevent the government – or fox news – from distorting, deleting, and misrepresenting the things government does. we would bet that not even the most radical opponent of copyright would want scooter libbey doing the rip, mix and burn of c-span recordings.”
    For the record I certainly don’t want to get rid of copyright and from his writings I know that Professor Lessig doesn’t either but your way of looking at this is incredibly myopic. You’re essentially saying that granting copyright protects people from presenting content in an misleading way, that may be true in this case but it isn’t true most of the time. Putting content in the public domain ensures that everyone can get access to it so while Fox News may be able to take public domain content and edit it to support their viewpoint I, as Joe Average, can go on the internet and see all of the original content and edit it however I would like. By putting strict restrictions on the content it ensures that ONLY Fox News and other large corporations can edit the content (because really Fox News has enough money and lawyers to get whatever C-Span footage they want) while I can neither easily see that content nor use it as I wish. The more restrictions you put on something it just makes it more difficult for normal people to use, large corporations and powerful politicians are the last ones that it will hurt.