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Obama Requests Creative Commons for Presidential Debates 478

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama recently submitted a letter to the DNC asking for the Presidential debates to be licensed under the Creative Commons. This move would give everyone the freedom to share, recut, and edit the debates as they wish. "I am a strong believer in the importance of copyright, especially in a digital age. But there is no reason that this particular class of content needs the protection. We have incentive enough to debate. The networks have incentive enough to broadcast those debates. Rather than restricting the product of those debates, we should instead make sure that our democracy and citizens have the chance to benefit from them in all the ways that technology makes possible."
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Obama Requests Creative Commons for Presidential Debates

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  • Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ohearn ( 969704 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:05AM (#18986885)
    This is definately something I can stand behind regardless of which party it comes from.
    • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:18AM (#18987095) Homepage Journal
      "This is definately something I can stand behind regardless of which party it comes from."

      I have to 2nd that!! I'm still VERY open minded to this next election...and this just put a big "+" mark next to his name so far.

      Anything that starts to 'buck' the system a little I'm for. I thought I'd heard that MSNBC? was covering the debates, and was trying very hard to lock in all the content to themselves where no one could really publish parts of it, etc. The debates are (should be) and important part of the US public's decision making, and should therefore be completely free for use and analysis by the general public as they see fit.

      You know...I've heard it say that the govt. takes your freedoms a little piece at a time. Well, maybe it works in reverse too? Every little thing that helps change the old party way/style in the elections, helps break the grip and open it up more to change......and I'm all for that.

      If we could next somehow blow away the primary system for something else more open...we might be able to someday get actual GOOD candidates to the elections, rather than the predestined crap we seem to get from the parties which is largely decided either in advance, or apparently by the early primaries that seem to hold nothing in common with the majority of the US.

      But, that's another story....start with baby steps....baby steps.....

      • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Informative)

        by travdaddy ( 527149 ) <travo.linuxmail@org> on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:22AM (#18987143)
        I thought I'd heard that MSNBC? was covering the debates, and was trying very hard to lock in all the content to themselves where no one could really publish parts of it, etc.

        You thought right: Here's the previous Slashdot Article [slashdot.org].
    • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:46AM (#18987489) Journal
      It seems like an empty gesture to me. Do the politicians actually answer any questions these days? The last few debates I have watched, the answers were to poorly constructed, or circular, or not an answer at all, as to make the point of debates in this modern day needless.

      Ask them a simple question, and get a complex non-answer.

      So, props to Obama for trying to look like a progressive to those who cannot see through such ploys for voter support.
      • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Interesting)

        by fbjon ( 692006 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:56AM (#18987663) Homepage Journal

        So, props to Obama for trying to look like a progressive to those who cannot see through such ploys for voter support.
        What's your point? That you won't support his proposal, or that you hate politics in general?
      • by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) * on Friday May 04, 2007 @10:14AM (#18987925) Journal
        Do the politicians actually answer any questions these days?

        I think that's a good question, about the need for politicians to better address voter needs. In my campaign, we have had a tremendous, just, two-way dialogue with the voters in this country and that is definitely the way to go. That's why I have always been a big supporter of education. If I'm elected, I will give a lifetime tax exemption to anyone who pursues a PhD in anything. And that's what America needs right now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This is definately something I can stand behind regardless of which party it comes from.

      So then is it correct to infer that on some issues you may reject an otherwise reasonable position simply because it comes from the "wrong" party?

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:05AM (#18986889)
    I'd still like to hear his thoughts on related topics like the content cabal's continuing crusade that confounds consumers' capabilities to copy in conditions commensurate with copyright law.

    • Gezz. Try saying that 10 times fast:P
    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:07AM (#18986921) Journal
      then he's got my vote.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zrobotics ( 760688 )

      While I would also like to have more info on what his position is on copyright law, this is still an great thing. Things like this should be in the public domain. Not only is it important for people to watch these debates, but they also need to discuss them, both in their private lives and in public. This gives anyone the freedom to quote the original source, which should be a given in a democracy in matters concerning politics. It may not work out to Obama's advantage; there may be people who use what he s

    • by ktappe ( 747125 )

      related topics like the content cabal's continuing crusade that confounds consumers' capabilities to copy in conditions commensurate with copyright law

      Voila! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van-guarding v

  • Interesting. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:06AM (#18986903) Homepage Journal
    It's worth noting, though, that if this is just a Democratic National Committee matter, it would of course only apply to the Democrats' internal debate, and not the actual presidential debates which come later. Baby steps, baby steps..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes... but the debate participates set the rules of the debate and negotiate.. so.. if the democrats say "we won't debate unless the video is CCed... then that is a good incentive to CC the content... As for the Presidential debates... the candidates have even more power to set the copyright standards on those.
    • Gotta start somewhere.
  • by chrismcdirty ( 677039 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:06AM (#18986913) Homepage
    Don't you know that nobody profits if it's released under Creative Commons?
  • by boxlight ( 928484 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:07AM (#18986917)
    I'm conservative and I'll probably vote for McCain and/or Giuliani, but I have to say there's a lot to like about this Obama fellow. He seems rather "tuned in".

    boxlight

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      ... but you'll vote for McCain or Guliani? That's hardly conservative.
      • by EastCoastSurfer ( 310758 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:19AM (#18987105)
        You fallen for the trap that conservative == religious nut job. There are lots (I hope the non-vocal majority) of conservatives that don't want to blow up abortion clinics and force religion on people. The same way there are lots of liberals that don't think choice means allowing abortions 9 months into a pregnancy.

        It's easy to label people with extreme views, but in reality most people are somewhere in the middle.
        • by otacon ( 445694 )
          Right, I'm definatley conservative, I have my beliefs. I may be against abortion, but I don't want to blow a clinic up. I don't want to make someone believe something, it is and should be solely their choice. I think it is the radical ends of both wings that ruin it for everyone else.
        • by Anivair ( 921745 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @10:03AM (#18987789)
          That's not a trap, it's called being minimally observant.

          I agree that conservative should not = religious nut job, but that's irrelevant. I'm sure there are plenty of nice moderate guys in the KKK but the guys in charge are wackos, and as a result anyone who supports their organization is supporting hate filled whack jobs and the same applies here. Until the conservatives in this country grow a pair and get someone other than a fundie cretin in charge of their political party, the game is still over and conservative might as well be the same as religious nut job. Because it's the religious nut jobs at the top making all the decisions and the fact that you are probably a nice reasonable conservative doesn't make them saner.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Jerf ( 17166 )
            I agree that liberal should not = nut job, but that's irrelevant. I'm sure there are plenty of nice moderate guys in ANSWER but the guys in charge are wackos, and as a result anyone who supports their organization is supporting hate filled whack jobs and the same applies here. Until the liberals in this country grow a pair and evict the fascist whackos who won't be happy until total thought policing is implemented for The Cause, the game is still over and liberals might as well be the same as religious nut
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gfxguy ( 98788 )
            That's ridiculous - we can say the same thing about any group at all, you can condemn all Muslims "until they grow a pair" and kick out all the "fundies", and then I can certainly condemn liberals for the likes of Ted "back stabbing" Kennedy and Nancy "the happy socialist" Pelosi.
        • The same way there are lots of liberals that don't think choice means allowing abortions 9 months into a pregnancy.
          You do know that elective abortions in the third trimester are illegal and have always been, right?

          Let me repeat: no one just "decides" to get an abortion nine months into a pregnancy. Even 8 or 7. Again, no one says, "oh, I hadn't made up my mind until now, and just decided to get an abortion." This is documented and figures are freely available online. There has not ever been an elective abortion that late.

          Now, on the other hand, there are very rare abortions performed that late when the fetus is hydroencephalic and has a cranium filled with water and swollen up to the size of a watermelon. The fetus is brain dead, and if left to continue to swell, would kill the mother. This is exceedingly rare, but the only safe way to remove the fetus is D&E. You can do a C-section, but that's major surgery - it involves actually lifting the intestines up out of the body and putting them on the chest so that you can get to the uterus underneath. Scary shiat.

          So, just drop the whole "those indecisive women" meme. It's stupid, dishonest, and is 100% wrong.
        • by Hard_Code ( 49548 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @10:53AM (#18988505)
          "conservatives that don't want to blow up abortion clinics and force religion on people."

          Please, please, take your party back over. I am not conservative (I think the world is a lot more complicated, and therefore require solutions that do not necessarily extrapolate directly from the minimal precepts of individual liberties, although I do think individual liberty is a fundamental prerequisite; I am left leaning, but also skew very libertarian), but I believe conservative thought is legitimate and honest. I would much rather have an intellectual debate at that level than somebody who may violently agree with me for all the wrong reasons...sometimes a position informed by my preferred ideology will be the right one, and sometimes not (at which point the ideology is irrelevant). Ideology is only necessary when there aren't enough facts for a clear best solution to be obvious (in fact, I'd like debate to move beyond ideology entirely). Yes there are extremists on the left, but I am much more afraid of apocalyptic militant religious nutjobs (that fundamentally reject the notions of individual liberty the nation was founded on) than I am by annoying nanny-staters that want to make me completely safe from everything.
    • by hsmith ( 818216 )
      If you are going to vote for either of those two, you don't really know what being a conservative is. Period.
      • by Miseph ( 979059 )
        Well, unless he's a fiscal conservative, and not a social conservative. You know that's possible, right?
      • Well, I would tend to agree... but who says if you vote for them you don't know what a conservative is? I would say Bush isn't a conservative either, that doesn't mean a lot of conservatives didn't vote for him.
  • Brilliant... Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyphercell ( 843398 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:08AM (#18986957) Homepage Journal
    If he truly beleives he is the best man for the position, then opening the debates is brilliant. If however this would easily back fire in a matter of weeks, as opponents grab at the documents and hack away. Either way I think it's a pretty good idea for a democracy. So long as the originals are preserved for reference.
  • w00t (Score:3, Funny)

    by igotmybfg ( 525391 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:08AM (#18986959) Homepage
    how cool is that, a suit who gets it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by faloi ( 738831 )
      I'll believe he "gets it" when he goes back to some of his big donors in the entertainment industry and starts asking them to consider backing initiatives that support consumer rights and fair use. Until then, this isn't much more than a publicity stunt.
  • Check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:09AM (#18986965)
    Ok, that's the `keep the nerds happy with something to do with copyright` box checked.

    Wake me up when he declares that he'll see to overturning the absurd patent laws should the US electorate vote a black guy into power.
    • I'm sorry... could you please explain to me why the color of his skin should matter in copyright debate?
      • by k_187 ( 61692 )
        Because the guy could have copyright/patent policy that slashdot would cream over, but if he can't get elected, his position is just glory words. Sadly, race is still something that people consider when electing someone.
    • Re:Check (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hobart ( 32767 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:27AM (#18987231) Homepage Journal

      Ok, that's the `keep the nerds happy with something to do with copyright` box checked.
      OP is on the mark with this line. It's very nice to see Obama making a reference to CC ... but, what's this over here on Lessig's blog? (reads TFA) Pay closer attention! Obama's request is that they
      1. WAIVE THE COPYRIGHT AND PLACE IT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN , or barring that,
      2. place it under (SPECIFICALLY) the Creative Commons (Attribution) license. (Yes he specified one: http://creativecommons.org.nyud.net:8080/licenses/ by/3.0/ [nyud.net] , if it's down, here's Wikisource of v2.5 http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_Att ribution_2.5#English [wikisource.org] )
      Reading the /. summary neither mentions the public domain, nor makes it clear that Obama's letter shows an understanding of the distinction between waiving copyright and licensing.

      Article summarizations that give half the story like this are why rms has to be such a pedantic language lawyer when speaking. Clarification of the article would be appreciated, scuttlemonkey.

      --
      Slashcode bug # 497457 - unfixed since December 2001 - Go look it up [sourceforge.net]!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Obama's letter shows an understanding of the distinction between waiving copyright and licensing.

        The parent makes an excellent point. Also I want to point out that it's not very surprising that Obama knows the distinction between waiving a copyright and licensing, he has a JD from Harvard and taught constitutional law for over ten years See Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      og yeah, the large nerd demographic. It's huge. oh wait, most nerds don't vote and hate both parties.

      Perhaps he just thinks this is the best thing for America?

      Idiot.
  • Specificly... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:12AM (#18986993)
    Specificly, from TFA:

    "The letter asks that the video from any Democratic Presidential debate be available freely after the debate, by either placing the video in the public domain, or licensing it under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license."

    There are many kinds of Creative Commons licenses, and not all of them are as permissive as the requested one.
  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:12AM (#18986997)
    A situation like this may force a more serious, mainstream debate if the networks were to dig their heels in. I think the problem with DRM, IP and copyright is the fact is that there has not been a situation like this that the public as a whole can really understand. So here's to hoping we take one step back to take two steps forward.
    • by cgenman ( 325138 )
      And who, exactly, would carry the serious, mainstream IP focused debate? The networks? Rupert Murdoc's newspapers?

      No, the best thing is if the networks decided to spin this for good PR, and talked about how they're putting the presidential debates into the public domain and that anyone can copy and distribute them. Then you get people asking things like "what's the public domain?" "So what else should we be free to distribute?" and "which one is my video editing application?"

      Sure, that means you'll get 1
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:17AM (#18987071)
    So, he's all set for high-quality editing jobs that will take quotes like that and produce nice little YouTube videos that say:

    "I am a strong believer in ... restricting ... citizens. We should ... make sure that our ... networks benefit from them in all ... ways."
    • Personally, I didn't get into politics at all UNTIL I heard funny edits of the 2004 presidential debates on my local morning radio program. Yeah, I voted with the party line my folks did... never questioned it really. I'd go so far as to say I was a BAD voter since I just went with the flow and didn't really take any thought into anything beyond what the 5 minute blurbs on TV told me. Kind of like how that sort of person might be a bad juror.

      The bit was cute. They used a series of clever edits and bleeps to
  • I'm not convinced he's not just "throwing a bone" here. How about a campaign promise to veto any copyright extensions or new restrictions that come across his desk? To work to scale back the DMCA, and work the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act back to a genuinely, realistically "limited time", like the Constitution requires? To ensure that if the Internet streaming royalty increases go into effect, he'll work toward scaling them back? It's a nice thought and a good idea, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not much. If this is to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than promise to release one thing, he needs to be willing to take on the deep-pocket content industry, and in doing so, ensure that their bribes^Wcampaign contributions will go to the other side. Otherwise, it makes no real difference.

    • How about a campaign promise to veto any copyright extensions or new restrictions that come across his desk? To work to scale back the DMCA, and work the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act back to a genuinely, realistically "limited time", like the Constitution requires? To ensure that if the Internet streaming royalty increases go into effect, he'll work toward scaling them back?

      How about because the President doesn't have the authority to do any of those things? Seriously, he's got more authority now,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        More technical authority (one vote in Congress vs. 0), probably less, realistically so. Look up "bully pulpit".

    • The fact that he prefaced his statement with something to the effect of "I am a strong believer in copyright" indicates to me that he doesn't really understand the debate over copyright, or he doesn't care to get it right and is just tossing out a bone. His statement seems to imply that releasing something under a permissive CC license is equivalent to abolishing copyright entirely.

      Most people involved in the debate believe in the idea of copyright; it's just that we disagree over how strong copyright p

      • That'd include me. I'd be all for a 5 or 10 year copyright, designed around the realistic and technological limitations inherent in such a system. But after a few years, either something has made you a profit, or it's not going to. I don't get paid for my work for "life plus 70", I get paid for it when I do it, and the person who paid for it is then entitled to benefit from it in any way and as long as they desire. Why should anyone else get special treatment?

  • John Edwards too... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seasleepy ( 651293 ) <seasleepyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:40AM (#18987405)
    According to Lessig's blog, John Edwards has also written a letter [lessig.org] supporting this idea.
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Friday May 04, 2007 @09:52AM (#18987617) Journal
    ...how come, as a member of Congress right now, he doesn't introduce and fight for a few bills to reform copyright law so as to bolster Fair Use, and to curb the cartels such as the **AA?

    While he's at it, he can do a little politicking to remove software patents, or at least reform it to the point where patent trolls cannot possibly profit (or insanely huge corporations cannot lock out competition with it)?

    It's fine and dandy to talk about wanting CC applied to debates, but he's in a position to make far more fundamental changes in his current Congressional position. Let's see him prove he's more than just a typical politician who likes to mouth a few buzzwords for attention here and there.

    /P

  • A reprise of my comment [slashdot.org] from a week ago that was modded "Troll":

    Who cares about NBC when there is YouTube?

    Here we have a broadcaster willing to broadcast the debate to the entire universe for FREE: YouTube. I blame the political parties for giving exclusive license to a twentieth century media outlet. But that's not the worst of their evils -- that would be excluding candidates who want to uphold the Constitution, such as Ron Paul.

    As it turns out, though, Ron Paul did make it to the Reagan Library last nigh

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