Something interesting has emerged from last week's skewering of the president and the press by Stephen Colbert: the fact that C-SPAN, the "public affairs" cable network who claims to be all about the people's business, is claiming copyright over the material shown on YouTube (which we linked to here).
Reports the New York Times:
On Wednesday, C-Span, the nonprofit network that first showed Mr. Colbert's speech, wrote letters to the video sites YouTube.com and ifilm.com, demanding that the clips of the speech be taken off their Web sites....
...After the clips of Mr. Colbert's performance were ordered taken down at YouTube â€” where 41 clips of the speech had been viewed a total of 2.7 million times in less than 48 hours, according to the site â€” there were rumblings on left-wing sites that someone was trying to silence a man who dared to speak truth to power.
But as became clear later in the week, this was a business decision, not a political one. Not only is the entire event available to be streamed at C-Span's Web site, c-span.org, but the network is selling DVD's of the event for $24.95, including speeches and a comedy routine by President Bush with a President Bush imitator.
And C-Span gave permission to Google Videos to carry the Colbert speech beginning Friday. The arrangement, which came with the stipulation that Google Videos provide the entire event and a clip of Mr. Bush's entire routine as well, is a one-time deal. In other words: ka-ching!
Money talks, and the people walk, people. I'm tempted to add, "C-SPAN wants you to get all the content that corporations can buy from them," but that would be a step ahead.
But what really is disturbing here is that money-making opportunities immediately and completely trumped the purportedly "public affairs" focus of C-SPAN.