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Free the Debates

A number of DIA users and friends are among scores of signatories to open letters sent to both the DNC and RNC demanding that debate footage be openly licensed to facilitate remixing, mashups, parody, commentary, and every other manner of citizen intervention free from any possible fear that some intellectual property law could be used to shut down discussion. The letters suggest one of two solutions: place all debate footage in the public domain; or, place it under a Creative Commons license. Here's a pdf version of the letters. That's such a damnably obvious thing to get behind that kos and Michelle Malkin are taking the same tack. And while the danger of an actual lawsuit may be scant -- "suing the anonymous person who made a YouTube skewering you during the New Hampshire primary" is a good working definition of "political suicide" -- one has to appreciate the opportunism of using the situation as a teachable moment on intellectual property for politicos. The parties should do this, of course. But so much the better if it normalizes in some small way the idea that statues surrounding content control and distribution are not fixed on Sinai but open to discussion. Who's ever cared about the licensing terms of presidential debates before? And any organization, too, might have interesting food for thought to read the letter as if addressed to themselves about any sort of content they produce. Let's not say that the answer is determined in advance ... let's just say that an appeal like:
No concerned voter should ever be labeled a lawbreaker for wanting to share video of a presidential debate with others.
... could be made to similar effect using a variety of clauses in place of "video of a presidential debate."


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