A million C-SPANs

I say we need to create a million C-SPANs made by us, the citizens, using video to open up government to inspection by all.

C-SPAN itself is, oddly, one of the most jealous protectors of copyright anywhere. That’s why they demanded that Stephen Colbert’s speech before the press corps of Washington be pulled down from online. That is why The Times writes today about confusion in Congress about what representatives can and cannot put on their blogs. The short answer is: government feeds belong to us all, C-SPAN feeds belong to them. So Nancy Pelosi was in her rights to put up speeches from the floor on her blog; that came from the taxpayers’ cameras. Yet as The Times points out:

But last week, as it happens, C-Span did contact the speaker’s office to have it take down a different clip from her blog — one shot by C-Span’s cameras at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on global warming where Ms. Pelosi testified, Mr. Daly said. . . .

“We are structurally burdened, in terms of people’s perception, because we are the only network that has such a big chunk of public domain material,” said Bruce Collins, the corporate vice president and general counsel of C-Span. He estimated that 5 to 15 percent of C-Span’s programming is from the House and Senate floor, and thus publicly available.

“It is perfectly understandable to me that people would be confused,” he said. “They say, ‘When a congressman says something on the floor it is public domain, but he walks down the street to a committee hearing or give a speech and it is not public domain?’ “

Thus the work of our government is being trapped by C-SPAN’s cameras and business models. That may be their right but it doesn’t serve our rights. So we need to blow this up.

If Firedoglake could go and liveblog the hell out of the Libby trial, so can more of us go and tape meetings of our government and distribute that online, around C-SPAN.

We can do this not just at a national but also at a state and local level. I suggested that this is a role for local public radio (here and here) and also for local newspapers: Unleash an army of us with audio and video recorders to capture public meetings and then host what we come up with and give us the tools to edit these recordings down to their essence.

The next time you go to your school board meeting, take along a video camera and put it up on YouTube. And watch how your elected representatives behave then.

  • http://ari.typepad.com Steve Rhodes

    People should go and cover local government, but not every meeting is going to be covered (particularly since they often are during the day when it is harder for people to attend).

    And they may find out something important happened at a meeting later.

    What needs to happen is for local government to record every meeting, stream it live (so people can send in comments & questions if they can’t actually be at the meeting), archive it (and not just for a few weeks), and make it easy for people to embed it, or include a clip in their own vlog.

    One interesting site is fora.tv which was started by someone who used to work at c-span and put online kind of speeches, panels, and readings C-SPAN and Booktv do, but everything is archived and can be embedded. There are also chapter stops so you can jump to a specific part of the video.

  • http://ari.typepad.com Steve Rhodes

    People should go and cover local government, but not every meeting is going to be covered (particularly since they often are during the day when it is harder for people to attend).

    And they may find out something important happened at a meeting later.

    What needs to happen is for local government to record every meeting, stream it live (so people can send in comments & questions if they can’t actually be at the meeting), archive it (and not just for a few weeks), and make it easy for people to embed it, or include a clip in their own vlog.

    One interesting site is fora.tv which was started by someone who used to work at c-span and put online kind of speeches, panels, and readings C-SPAN and Booktv do, but everything is archived and can be embedded. There are also chapter stops so you can jump to a specific part of the video.

    http://fora.tv

    http://fora.tv/fora/showthread.php?t=687 (talk by Michael Arndt who won an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine)

    http://fora.tv/fora/showthread.php?t=563

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Since when do cameras make politicians behave responsibly? You should watch Howie Kurtz’ segment on the Anna Nicole Smith judge’s on-camera courtroom antics from yesterday’s Reliable Sources. And think about the OJ trial.

    And then come down to earth.

    Nothing of any significance transpires in any public meeting of a legislative body, the real work is done in private. And that’s good, because the average person is an idiot and TV only make him dumber.

  • http://www.hammer2006.blogspot.com Alex Hammer

    I would like permission, if you are interested, to repost this in full at Politics 2.0. You are extremely insightful in regard to the empowering use of new media technologies in regard to opening up government to all of us.

    Thank you.

    Alex

  • http://www.neokastblog.com jim

    Great post. We intend to provide the vehicle for the million C-Spans to stream it all live. The revolution is here, YouTube was the opening shot.

    http://www.neokastblog.com

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  • http://www.easyhomeimprovementportal.org/mainsitemap.php Shima

    Yeah, I have to agree with you Richard Bennett. People nowadays do not seem to behave properly even though in television. In fact, they use television media to show whatever nonsense that they have inside them to other people.

  • http://www.estetiks.com/ estetik

    Since 1987, Nancy Pelosi has represented California’s Eighth District in the House of Representatives. She has been a leader in increasing educational opportunity, protecting workers, and promoting health care, including women’s health and the creation of a nationwide health tracking network to examine the links between environmental pollutants and chronic disease. She has been a strong proponent of increased investments in health research, and has secured funding to double the budget for the National Institutes of Health. Pelosi also has successfully defeated repeated attempts to reduce funding for international family planning programs.

  • http://www.estetiks.com/ plastik

    C-SPAN generally does a great job of archiving the content they air; certainly, this important briefing needs to be made available for on-demand viewing, in perpetuity. Somebody needs to get it on YouTube, ASAP, if possible.

  • http://www.littleocountrylost.com Jen Clark

    C-SPAN should be a publicly funded public service. Not everything should be owned!

  • http://izlekop.com kop

    Great post. We intend to provide the vehicle for the million C-Spans to stream it all live. The revolution is here, YouTube was the opening shot.