The people's business? Not if C-SPAN is cashing in .


4 comments posted
Video on Google Video

Atrios posted the link:

Colbert Video

I don't know if it was some sort of deal with the corporate devil or not, but there it is. The clip didn't have anything but Colbert on it when I watched it this morning, so they've apparently edited it since you last saw it.

You're right about the "ownership society." The "public square" has no constituency, apparently.

liberalrob's picture
Posted by liberalrob on 9 May 2006 - 11:17am
Perhaps if they had asked...

As a person whose copyright and ownership has been repeatedly stolen, I have to say that I am sympathetic to C-Span. In many cases, if someone would have asked permission, I would have given it. Perhaps C-Span would have, also.

The Internet is not the wild West. The laws that govern the rest of society govern this part of it, too.

Diane's picture
Posted by Diane (not verified) on 13 May 2006 - 9:16am
Ah, but how does C-Span get its content?

Is it really just like any other corporation? Or does it gain from its purported mission of serving the public trust?

I'm not some pollyanna who says there should be no creative property rights. But why is it that C-SPAN owns this material? And is C-SPAN just any other network, when they're big on If C-SPAN gets to treat its content as product to be sold, then perhaps it should not count as a public service programming. Because public service is not happening when the "public's business" is sold as a commodity. Congress already treats the public's business as a commodity to be bought and sold. We're truly worse off if the coverage of Congress is also bought and sold.

And before anyone goes off on how Stephen Colbert is not Congress, let's note that it doesn't matter, when it's all being presented by the same organization with the same mission and same channels.

And let's also note that CSPAN is claiming copyright on Congressional testimony, too:

This is not an isolated problem. As I have learned from broadcasters while working on the Berkman Center’s project on educational uses of content, C-SPAN generally denies permission for anyone to use its footage in internet streaming, even those willing to pay for a license. In one apparently typical instance, congressional testimony about illegal drugs had to be cut from the online version of an episode of the public television series Frontline. That’s a lot more serious than a stand-up comic routine.

C-SPAN has the legal right to withhold permission for streaming — it is a private initiative of the cable industry, not a government entity. Presumably the network wants to maintain control of its online library of footage.

But this seems like a horrifically short-sighted strategy for a network that says its “mission is to provide public access to the political process.” And I don’t see how licensing raw tape of events in Washington (as opposed to call-in shows or something else with editorial content) could compromise “C-SPAN’s reputation for unbiased coverage of the political process.”

Something stinks about this whole thing. We're not talking about ownership of one's creative property, but ownership being claimed by the oligopoly players who are striving to prevent new disruptive economies from emerging ... and, now, claiming copyright on the people's business.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 13 May 2006 - 12:38pm
You have a very good point

My assumption that part of the problem is that someone just didn't ask is apparently not relevant, given that C-Span is not willing to sell certain licenses. That is something I didn't know. Now I am wondering why they are holding on to any number of pieces of raw footage. Perhaps all will be revealed.

Diane's picture
Posted by Diane (not verified) on 13 May 2006 - 6:56pm