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!)

May 4, 2007  ·  Lessig

Perhaps a bit surprised at the RNC’s nonresponse to the call to free the debates, some additional prominent Republican bloggers and net activists have joined the letter to RNC, including John Hawkins of Right Wing News, Matt Margolis of GOP Bloggers and founder of Blogs for Bush, Robert Bluey of Bluey Media, David All of TechPresident and founder of The David All Group, Liz Mair of GOP Progress blog, and Patrick Ruffini, the 2005-2006 RNC eCampaign Director and blogger at PatrickRuffini.com.

You can read the letter and a press release here.

May 3, 2007  ·  Lessig

John Edwards has joined the call to free the debates. Text of his letter to the DNC:

Dear Messrs Walton, Moonves and Zucker, Mses. Sweeney and Kerger, and Dr. Dean:

Selecting a president is the most important responsibility Americans have. In an age of 30-second ads, 7-second sound bites and media consolidation, making an informed decision is harder than ever.

That is why I am asking each news network to make video footage from the presidential debates that they broadcast available on the internet for the public to view and use responsibly. I am also asking Chairman Dean, who is playing a valuable role in organizing many of the Democratic primary debates, to use his influence with the networks to make the debates more broadly available.

The Creative Commons license terms offer an easy way to ensure that the networks’ rights are protected. Much of the content on my own campaign web site is available under just such a license.

Commercial constraints are severe enough in their effect in diluting the substance of our campaigns. Limiting access to long-form televised debates makes matters worse.

This is not a surprising position for the great (and deeply substantive) former Senator. He’s been doing lots of fantastic Internet related stuff. But it is very good sign that he sees this issue as important enough to add his own call. Thank you, Mr. Edwards.

Link to the letter here.

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.