Debates, freed

NBC and ABC have now joined CNN in freeing up the debates they air for our unrestricted use and remixing. Bravo. MoveOn heaps on the praise and after scolding them for not doing this I’ll now join in the heaping. Says MoveOn’s joint red-blue press release:

Today, a right-left alliance praised ABC and NBC for joining CNN in liberating presidential debate video – allowing footage to be legally shared, blogged, excerpted, and put on sites like YouTube.

ABC announced Sunday’s Republican debate footage would be “without restrictions on use” after airing live, joining CNN who earlier this year announced the same policy. NBC announced a similar policy, beginning with last night’s AFL-CIO Democratic debate – allowing any use of debate video if attributed to MSNBC, provided the primary intent is not commercial and that candidates don’t use NBC moderators in ads.

“ABC and NBC deserve praise for leveling the playing field–allowing everyday people to share key debate moments on blogs and YouTube just like the networks choose moments to show on the air,” said Adam Green, who leads media reform and Internet freedom campaigns for Civic Action. “It’s good for our democracy that TV networks are removing themselves as the sole deciders of which debate moments can have a life online.”

Mike Krempasky, co-founder of, said, “These networks are not only embracing new technology, but new communities. Their willingness to loosen the reins a bit will go a long way towards improving our politics as more and more people get involved.” . . .

CBS has not yet made a public statement about their policy, and does not have their first debate until December. Fox, which has hosted one Republican debate and is scheduled to host another in October, told USA Today that “it plans to treat the debates its airs like all its programs. In other words, it will not post the video for all to use.” [Fox told me that they would expect people would make fair use of their video – ed.]

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said today, “Democracy works best when citizens are active participants in the debates. I encourage all media organizations to think about what kinds of content they could make available for re-use to allow people to get involved.”

In truth, YouTube users — including the candidates themselves — were already making liberal copious use of debate footage and the networks weren’t trying to stop them. But now there is an open acknowledgment that these debates are ours and that we will add value and perspective as we share and remix them.

(Crossposted from PrezVid)