Senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama has asked Democratic National Committee Howard Dean to make video of the Democratic presidential debates publicly available free and unrestricted, according to a copy of the letter supplied by Moveon.org.
Obama wants the copyright holder--whether the DNC or a media outlet-- to waive copyright, saying "there is no reason that this particular class of content needs the protection."
For its part according to a copy of the usage rules for its May 3 Republican debate coverage, MSNBC, which provided the video of last week's Democratic debate as well , said that it and co-sponsor POLITICO.com were maintaining control over the footage. They are requiring on-screen credits and limiting aired or streamed excerpts to no more than a combined two minutes in the hours just after the May 3 debate and no more than 10 minutes after that, with no excerpts to be archived or streamed after June 2 without express permission from MSNBC.
While MSNBC VP, communications, Jeremy Gaines points out the network is not waiving its rights to the footage, he also points out that it will be available throughout the election season for Web surfers to stream or link to their own sites.
Gaines says they are the standard rules, but adds that "this is our production and our footage."
Barack joins a call by
and others to allow Republican and Democrat's debate footage to be posted on Websites, including social networking sites.
The letter goes as follows:
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.