May 3, 2007  ·  Lessig

The Obama campaign posted this today:

Chairman Howard Dean
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St., SE
Washington, DC 20003

Dear Chairman Dean:
I am writing in strong support of a letter from a bipartisan coalition of academics, bloggers and Internet activists recently addressed to you and the Democratic National Committee. The letter asks that the video from any Democratic Presidential debate be available freely after the debate, by either placing the video in the public domain, or licensing it under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

As you know, the Internet has enabled an extraordinary range of citizens to participate in the political dialogue around this election. Much of that participation will take the form of citizen generated content. We, as a Party, should do everything that we can to encourage this participation. Not only will it keep us focused on the issues that matter most to America, it will also encourage participation by a wide range of our youth who have traditionally simply tuned out from politics.

The letter does not propose some radical change in copyright law, or an unjustified expansion in “fair use.” Instead, it simply asks that any purported copyright owner of video from the debates waive that copyright.

I am a strong believer in the importance of copyright, especially in a digital age. But there is no reason that this particular class of content needs the protection. We have incentive enough to debate. The networks have incentive enough to broadcast those debates. Rather than restricting the product of those debates, we should instead make sure that our democracy and citizens have the chance to benefit from them in all the ways that technology makes possible.

Your presidential campaign used the Internet to break new ground in citizen political participation. I would urge you to take the lead again by continuing to support this important medium of political speech. And I offer whatever help I can to secure the support of others as well.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

Bravo, Senator Obama.

Readers of the Lessig Blog will recall (ok, no one will recall, but that’s why I’m reminding you) what I said about this man three years ago.

  • http://www.benstanfield.com/ Ben Stanfield

    Oops, you spelled his first name wrong in the post’s subject.

    Don’t be too embarrassed, though….so far the New York Times hasn’t caught it. They did when we put out our first press release for Draft Obama.

    I’m glad to see he’s on board with the CC idea. I hope he continues to encourage a completely open debate policy, and can’t wait until he’s able to appoint supreme court justices….Chief Justice Lessig does have a nice ring to it.

  • http://blogarithms.com Doug Kaye

    I posted some thoughts on my blog.

  • Brendan Lane Larson

    Larry,

    A minor spelling correction — you have misspelled this Presidential candidate’s first name twice:

    1.) this blog post to which I am commenting on, and

    2.) your post that you point to which you wrote three years ago.

    Its Barack not “Barak”.

    -Brendan Larson

  • ACS

    Spelling mistakes aside, can someone tell me why letters are going to the DNC and RNC – doesnt MSNBC own the copyright to the broadcasts. What, if anything, can the RNC/DNC do about it??

    Seems like a bit of a furphy to me.

    Alex

  • http://blog.outer-court.com Philipp Lenssen

    A politician who heard of Creative Commons: +1 points.
    A politician who *supports* Creative Commons: +2 points.

  • http://www.morganalley.com Dewi Morgan

    Works made by the US government are exempted from copyright, and are truly the property of the people. Why are presidential debates not covered by this law?

    Copyright is counterproductive, whatever you wrap it in: GPL, CC, Disney, it’s all bad, serving only to protect big business from the little guy. Public Domain is the only non-evil option. Efforts to make government code written by contractors be GPL licensed instead of PD were rightfully struck down, and so should be this CC effort.

    Presidential debates are work done by the government, for the nation. Any record of them should be PD.

  • http://www.digitalcitizen.info/ J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    It’s too bad that on far more important topics he looks so bad. At a recent candidate forum he brought nothing substantive to examine on health care. He takes corporate campaign money, distanced himself from Sen. Durbin’s torture criticism (as did Durbin which was also a step in the wrong direction), voted twice to confirm Condoleeza Rice, and supported attacking Iran.

    But, as ACS pointed out, he’s for asking a group that won’t negotiate on our behalf to control the licensing of the recording to support sharing and modification with attribution. Whee.

  • Obama constituent

    Obama is a huge disappointment. He’s got no leadership abilities whatsoever. If I call his office I know I’ll only get the “we’re afraid to take a position unless it’s benign” song and dance.

    I don’t want him for my senator. I certainly don’t want him following the witless wonder in the White House where REAL leadership will be needed.

    Obama should get his fat head out of the clouds and do the @#$%^& job we voters from Illinois sent him to the senate to do!!!

  • three blind mice

    Copyright is counterproductive, whatever you wrap it in: GPL, CC, Disney, it’s all bad, serving only to protect big business from the little guy.

    certainly, Dewi Morgan, copyright can be used by “big companies”, but it is also the only tool the “little guy” has to protect himself against those “big companies.”

    and a pet peeve professor – no one ever refers to Howard Dean as “Howard”, Mitt Romney as “Mitt”, or John Edwards as “John”, but it’s always “Barack” and “Hillary.” there seems to be a legacy in America that it is OK to refer to black men and women (black and white) by their first names.

    we respectfully submt that it isn’t. senator obama works just fine.

  • Lessig

    Re spelling errors: thanks. Growing old is about learning just how stupid you are.

    Re ACS’s comment about the ownership of copyright: That’s exactly right. But candidates can condition their appearance on a show in any number of ways. One is to say you must waive your exclusive right over the content.

  • noni mouse

    Re: first names
    We call people we *LIKE* by their first names. Remember ‘FOB’ = Friend of Bill?

  • mike a

    Wow, this is fantastic. Every once in a while the guy does something that indicates that he gets it. In this case getting it refers to understanding the internet as a way to store information about our government, to allow people to actually think about what it is doing. Television just doesn’t foster the sort of depth of understanding�it’s more about feeling than meaning�that a functioning democracy requires.

  • http://hiresteve.com Steve Foerster

    Dewi Morgan asks, “Works made by the US government are exempted from copyright, and are truly the property of the people. Why are presidential debates not covered by this law?”

    Because the presidential debates aren’t a government activity. They’re held by a private organization, specifically set up by the major parties to keep alternative candidates from getting attention.

  • Chris L

    Names are a matter of convenience. There’s already a more well-known “Clinton”, and “Obama” is easily confused with “Osama” by those not paying enough attention. Do not attribute to racism/sexism that which can be attributed to laziness, a much more common flaw. ;)

  • http://www.greatestate.com P. from Weston MA

    This is amazing, I’m a long-time right-winger but a candidate supporting Creative Commons/alternative licensing will not only get my vote, but also my support.

    And as a bonus, he isn’t Hillary!

  • http://www.digitalcitizen.info/ J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    Yes, participants can place any conditions on their appearance if they wish. But isn’t that exactly what’s not happening? From what I read in the Obama and Edwards letters neither candidate is saying anything akin to “license the debate recordings in this way or I won’t appear”. When we see media darling Sen. Obama not doing this, I think we can rest assured that copyright issues are not going to trump a chance to publicly parade their corporatist fealty.

    This kind of issue will come up again toward the end of the campaign. If any Democrat or Republican really cared about the public’s interest in the bipartisan (and I say that with sadness) CPD-sponsored “debates” they would condition their appearance on something that would include more candidates (perhaps inviting all presidential candidates that had a mathematical chance of winning the presidency according to electoral college votes, perhaps something else that didn’t give corporate media veto power). They don’t dare adopt any standard that leaves them with less control to exclude candidates (and therefore avoid uncomfortable issues). In the past the public wanted to see real debates with Nader and Buchanan, not just the Democrats/Republicans who bring us coordinated press gatherings (I refer you to OpenDebates.org for more detail of the problem of CPD’s so-called “debates”).

  • real american

    You would vote for a fucking towel head. You aint americans you fucken retards

  • Fire Ben Stanfield

    Why was the nut case blogger Ben Stanfield allowed to join the Obama Campaign? Ben Stanfield has smeared every Democrat in Virginia.

  • Melissa

    I am all for the fact that we are seeing history in the making with the presidential candidates we have running this year. But the only thing that I have a problem with is the fact that every one is using the term African American when it comes to describing Obama and in fact he is’nt, he is the product of white mother (and forgive me for not being politically correct) a black father which makes him bi-racial. To call him an African American is a false statement because he is’nt. And I wish the cadidates and the media would start using the correct term when it comes to describing Obamas race. Thanks

  • kristin guiliani

    FIRST I’D LIKE TO START BY SAYING THAT BARACK OBAMA VOTED TO INCREASE TAXES ON SINGLE PEOPLE MAKING $42,000.00 DOLLARS A YEAR WHO DO NOT OWN THEIR OWN HOME. THAT IS A FACT AND SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN CALLED HIM ON IT AND NOBAMA LIED STRAIGHT OUT. I THINK THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO KNOW MORE ABOUT NOBAMA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH FRANKLIN RAINES AND THE ACORN INSTITUTION WHICH I’VE BEEN TOLD IS ONE OF THE MOST CORRUPT ENTITIES IN THIS COUNTRY. ALSO WHERE DID THE 900 MILLION DOLLARS BARACK ASK FOR GO IN THE STATE OF ILLINOIS. IT CERTAINLY DID NOT GO TOWARDS EDUCATION IN CHICAGO. WAKE UP AMERICA!