May 5, 2007  ·  Lessig

Ok, so I’ve never had an all caps title, but this is fantastic news: From CNN:

Media Advisory
For Release: May 5, 2007
CNN to Make Presidential Debate Footage Available without Restrictions

As previously announced, CNN will team up with Hearst-Argyle’s WMUR-TV and the New Hampshire Union Leader to host two presidential debates to be held in America’s first primary state. The debate featuring Democratic candidates will be held on Sunday, June 3, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and the Republican debate will be held on Tuesday, June 5, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Due to the historical nature of presidential debates and the significance of these forums to the American public, CNN believes strongly that the debates should be accessible to the public. The candidates need to be held accountable for what they say throughout the election process. The presidential debates are an integral part of our system of government, in which the American people have the opportunity to make informed choices about who will serve them. Therefore, CNN debate coverage will be made available without restrictions at the conclusion of each live debate. We believe this is good for the country and good for the electoral process. This decision will apply to all of CNN’s presidential debates, beginning with the upcoming New Hampshire debates in June. CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is one of the world’s most respected and trusted sources for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; four Web sites, including CNN.com, the first major news and information Web site; CNN Pipeline, CNN.com’s premium live video news service; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and partnerships for four television networks and two Web sites.

Bravo, CNN! This is exactly the sort of leadership one hopes to see from that network. This is fantastic news for citizen generated content.

(And, by the way, June 3 is my birthday. What a great present!)

  • http://georgiaharper.blogspot.com Georgia Harper

    And bravo, Lessig, for staying on it!

  • http://www.fredbenenson.com Fred Beneson

    This is fantastic, but I can’t help myself, what does “without restrictions” mean? Public Domain dedication? CC-BY?

    Either way, congratulations, this is a real coup.

  • http://ideas.4brad.com Brad Templeton

    Bravo and congratulations, Larry. I was too cynical. (Can’t imagine what made me cynical about politicians.)

  • name

    I’ve seen this reported in several places, yet few people (c.f. Fred Benson) are asking the glaring question “What does ‘no restrictions’ *mean*?”. I would be shocked if it actually turns out to be public domain.

  • http://petitiononline.com/talk2lou Petition: Lou Dobbs for debate moderator

    Congratulations. Now perhaps the same people behind the first petition can move on and demand that we have real debates featuring real questions about real issues instead of puffballs and time wasters. Free video isn’t worth anything if it’s just the candidates reciting their talking points.

  • matt lee

    why do i get a feeling this will mean proprietary formats and probably non-commercial restriction. maybe i’m getting cynical..

  • Michael R. Bernstein

    I consider it completely shameful that a *cable network* was the first to agree to this, and not one of the broadcast networks that enjoy the use of the public airwaves.

  • Jason Sanchez

    It sounds like a good idea that the debates have been made public, but the idealized notion that, somehow, by providing these debates freely that the public will make more informed decisions on their basis isn’t really well-founded. If we, as scientists and scholars, have learned anything about Joe Q Public, it’s that he responds to charisma and not so much to reasoning.

    Honestly, do you think that Creationism would have any support in the US if there were no charismatic speakers arguing on its behalf? Do you think anyone would deny the fact of global warming and our responsibility for it?

  • http://libertyboom.blogspot.com Ryan

    I’m happy they’re releasing the debates for the sole reason that I do not own a TV. As for the public making informed decisions in elections, there is no such thing. You can make the most informed and rational decision when selecting a candidate but in won’t make a bit of difference once he gets into office. Leviathan will continue to grow and grow.

    Ron Paul, who I greatly admire, would have a difficult time reducing Leviathan even if he vetoes every bill that crosses his desk. Congress will try to override any bill that cuts off funding for their favorite pork projects. Just think how demonized he’ll be when he tries to eliminate the Department of Education.

  • http://craphound.com Co

    Congrats, Larry — a magnificent victory!

  • three blind mice

    Therefore, CNN debate coverage will be made available without restrictions at the conclusion of each live debate. We believe this is good for the country and good for the electoral process.

    whilst this is clearly another victory for commercial giants Google and YouTube we are hard-pressed to see how this is IN ANY WAY a victory for the electoral process.

    if the video can be rebroadcast on YouTube “at the conclusion of each live debate” does this not mean there is less reason (or perhaps none at all) for other news outlets to cover the debate? without the incentive of copyright to encourage others to make their own recording of history, we will only have one version of it.

    remember when king george the 41st glanced down at his watch during his debate with clinton? remember how the news media (correctly) picked that up as an indication of his aloofness and disinterest? many people have said that that was a seminal moment in the campaign which contributed to his loss.

    we can all rest assured that CNN would not wish to embarass their favorite candidate in the same way. remember friends “live” is not live – nor is it complete. there are editors working behind the scenes selecting what is broadcast. with only CNN there to record (and edit) history, we will only have CNNs version of history – rebroadcast countless times until it becomes the “official” truth.

    now imagine, if you will, that FOX news is in charge of the cameras…..

    when the news media bows down to the mob – it is rarely because it is in the mob’s best interest.

  • jdc

    mice: If FOX trusts CNN to impartially edit the debate feed, then they could decide to re-use it, and save a few thousand bucks on a camera crew. But I don’t see that happening. If Hillary looks at her watch, FOX wants a camera aimed at her, and they won’t trust CNN to do it.

    “There are editors working behind the scenes selecting what is broadcast” You’re right — camera selection, cutaways, etc. do matter (for those “watch checking” moments). But they can only go so far — there are always bloggers, newspaper reporters, and supporters of each candidate in the live audience. If actual questions are omitted, or responses changed, it will be caught quickly.

    Actually, if Fox and CNN both allow redistribution rights, bloggers could remix the entire debate, showing each network’s edits and cutaways to demonstrate the type of bias you describe. That’s never been possible before.

    Sure, in an ideal world we’d have access to the live feeds from each camera… but this is a huge improvement. Cheers to Lessig for pursuing this one.

  • jdc

    Hmm… actually both our points may be moot… since CNN is “hosting” the debates, would other networks’ cameras be allowed in the room, rebroadcast rights or not?

  • Mark Memmott

    Fox News says it will not allow free use of debate video: http://blogs.usatoday.com/onpolitics/2007/05/cnns_decision_t.html

  • kendall joy

    This is a dream come true, at least, a little one. I remember hitting the books during the first two debates this season and missing my high school days of watching tv when I wanted to. And I remember being confused and giving up when I couldn’t find the debates broadcast online.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.upyourego.com/blog/ Ryan Morrison

    I don’t know the ins and outs of US politics or media to a great extent but wouldn’t it be logical for someone like You Tube or even the Creative Commons foundation to host a live debate?

  • ACS

    Honestly, do you think that Creationism would have any support in the US if there were no charismatic speakers arguing on its behalf? Do you think anyone would deny the fact of global warming and our responsibility for it?

    Lol – true – but then again Global Warming is a load of BS. Ironically, it is the environmentalists who have the charisma in that debate (Al Gore [Charisma??], Nicolas Stern, etc).

    On to actual matters, congrats – for achieving what few others could – use of impressive legal rhetoric to get major companies to relinquish their legal rights. Well done.

  • http://www.bawwgt.com powerleveling

    It sounds like a good idea that the debates have been made public
    But will it last long?

  • owen rebbe

    HELP I need someone with a web cam to ask a question for me or yourself if you like the question

    Question for alll candidates

    In the interest of election reform would you consider repaeling the seventeenth amendment thereby putting the responsibility back to the individual states to APPOINT their state senators. possibly blunting the effect of the flood of lobbyist money.

  • http://www.garment-knitting.com/ Garment

    Actually, if Fox and CNN both allow redistribution rights, bloggers could remix the entire debate, showing each network’s edits and cutaways to demonstrate the type of bias you describe. That’s never been possible before.

  • http://www.mifdesign.com Custom

    Here is the update. Gaines of MSNBC says in an e-mail to us that:

    “News and information websites can use the video with the same restrictions as broadcast outlets. So, yes, they can download and have on their site and edit. Just like other television networks.”

    Still to be determined, we presume: exactly what is a “news and information website.