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Alliance Renews Call for Parties to Open Their Debates

On the same day the Democratic National Committee announced the dates, locations and TV networks for its six sanctioned presidential debates, a bipartisan alliance is renewing its call for TV networks to lift restrictions to video of the debates.

As noted in this blog a few days back, several Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama, John Edwards and Chris Dodd, have sent letters to the DNC asking the party to lift restrictions on debate video. Now, the liberal group MoveOn.org Civic Action is once again calling on the two parties to lift restrictions "to ensure that all presidential debate video can be legally shared, re-used, and blogged about without fear of legal repercussion."

So far, the push for free access to debate video has led to mixed results. MSNBC let C-SPAN re-air the first GOP debate two weeks ago, CNN lifted restrictions on video of its two June debates, but Fox News prohibited C-SPAN from re-airing last night's debate, and told other news organizations to stick to fair use rules.

The MoveOn.org letters to the two parties are signed by a mix of civil libertarians, political activists/commentators and online bigwigs, including Crooksandliars.com founder John Amato, Craigslist.org founder Craig Newmark, Wikipedia.com founder Jimmy Wales, Markos Moulitsas of Dailykos.com, Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington, conservative writer Michelle Malkin and Mike Krempasky of RedState.com.

-- Ed O'Keefe, washingtonpost.com

Read the two letters after the jump...

LETTER TO DNC

Chairman Dean:

We are writing to request that the Democratic National Committee help usher in the next stage of the Internet revolution that has made democracy more accessible to regular people and made politicians more accountable to their constituents.

In this letter, top technologists, progressive grassroots organizations, bloggers, and others are asking the DNC to ensure that all video footage from Democratic debates is able to be shared, re-used, and freely blogged about without the uploader of the video being deemed a lawbreaker.
In 1996, presidential candidates communicated on websites for the first time. In 2000, presidential candidates accepted online contributions for the first time. In 2004, your campaign helped usher in a new type of Internet-based people-powered activism.

In 2008, we need to ensure that the promise of online video is not inhibited. In the past, television stations that broadcast presidential debates have retained exclusive rights to debate footage after the event was over. By and large, such contract terms were not noticed by voters, activists, or news junkies - there was no widespread forum for regular people to share video content even if they wanted to.

But in the age of online video sharing, corporations retaining exclusive rights to debate footage is an obvious barrier to democratic participation. No concerned voter should ever be labeled a lawbreaker for wanting to share video of a presidential debate with others.

The Democratic National Committee recently announced it would sanction six official presidential debates. We, the undersigned, request that no debate get the official sanction of the DNC unless contract terms specify that video footage will be put into the public domain or licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license - so that after the debate, the video will be free for anyone to access, edit, and share with others with proper attribution.

We ask you to follow the lead of C-SPAN, which this year announced they would allow expanded use of their video content by others - paving the way for a more informed electorate through online video sharing.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss details, we'd be happy to make time for that discussion.

Sincerely,

Lawrence Lessig - Professor, Stanford Law School & Founder, Center for Internet and Society
Craig Newmark - Founder of Craigslist
Jimmy Wales - Founder of Wikipedia
Brad Smith - Former FEC Chair, and current Chair of the Center for Competitive Politics
Wade Henderson - President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Paul Rieckhoff - Executive Director, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Kim Gandy - President, National Organization for Women
Andy Stern - International President, SEIU
Karen Ackerman - Political Director, AFL-CIO
Eli Pariser - Executive Director, MoveOn.org Civic Action
James Rucker - Executive Director, ColorOfChange.org
Markos Moulitsas - Founder of DailyKos.com
Arianna Huffington - Founder of the Huffington Post
David Halperin - Director, Campus Progress & Senior Vice President, Center for American Progress Alexandra Acker - Executive Director, Young Democrats of America
Roger Hickey - Co-director, Campaign for America's Future
Josh Silver - Executive Director, Free Press
Shari Steele, Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fred von Lohmann - Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation (Intellectual Property issues)
Tim Wu - Professor, Columbia Law School & Founder of Columbia's Program on Law & Technology
Cory Doctorow - Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California
Micah Sifry - Personal Democracy Forum and TechPresident.com
David Moore - Executive Director, Participatory Politics Foundation and OpenCongress.org
Spencer Overton - Professor, GW Law & Founder of Blackprof.com blog
Robert Greenwald - Director, BraveNewFilms
Dan Manatt - Founder of PoliticsTV.com
Duncan Black - Founder of Atrios
Jane Hamsher - Founder of FireDogLake.com Christy
Hardin Smith - Front-page blogger, FireDogLake.com
Matt Stoller - Front-page blogger, MyDD.com
Chris Bowers - Front-page blogger, MyDD.com
David Waldman - Front-page blogger, DailyKos.com
Christopher M. Rabb - Founder and Chief Evangelist, Afro-Netizen
John Amato - Founder of Crooksandliars.com
John Aravosis - Founder of AMERICAblog.com
Don Hazen - Executive Editor, Alternet.org
Lowell Feld - Founder of RaisingKaine.com & former Netroots Coordinator, Webb for Senate (Virginia blog)
Juan Melli - Founder of Blue Jersey.com (New Jersey blog)
Mark Nickolas - Publisher, BluegrassReport.org (Kentucky blog)
David Kravitz - Co-founder, BlueMassGroup.com (Massachusetts blog)
Matt Singer - Founder of LeftInTheWest.com & former blogger for Tester for Senate (Montana blog)
Hugh Jackson - Founder of LasVegasGleaner.com (Nevada blog)
Myrna Minx - Founder of RenoDiscontent.com (Nevada blog)
Adam Green - Civic Communications Director, MoveOn.org Civic Action
Jane Fleming Kleeb - Executive Director, Young Voter PAC
Mike Lux - American Family Voices
Nicholas Reville - Co-Founder, Participatory Culture Foundation
Carl Malamud - Founder of Public.Resource.Org
Roz Lemieux - Executive Director, New Organizing Institute
Michael Silberman - Co-Founder and Director, EchoDitto
John Schwartz - Founder of Free Speech TV and freespeech.org
Paul Jay - CEO, Independent World Television and TheRealNews.com
Julie Bergman Sender - Filmmaker, Balcony Films
Garlin Gilchrist II - Blogger, TheSuperSpade.com
Helen De Michiel -- Co-Director, National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture
Jay Harris - President & Publisher, Mother Jones
Bruce Dixon - Black Agenda Report
Jill Tubman - Publisher, JackAndJill.com politics blog
Frank Emspak - Executive Producer, Workers Independent News
Lark Corbeil - Founder & Managing Editor, Public News Service
Tracy Van Slyke - Publisher, In These Times
Joel Bleifuss - Editor, In These Times
Roberto Lovato - New America Media
David Michaelis - Director of Current Affairs, Link TV
Ty West - Senior Producer, NOW on PBS
Marc Favreau - Editorial Director, The New Press
Ina Howard - Communications Director, The New Press
Linda Jue - Executive Director, New Voices in Independent Journalism
Rinku Sen - Publisher, Colorlines magazine

LETTER TO RNC

Chairmen Martinez and Duncan:

We are writing to request that the Republican National Committee help usher in the next stage of the Internet revolution that has made democracy more accessible to regular people and made politicians more accountable to their constituents.

In this letter, top technologists, grassroots organizations, bloggers, and others are asking the RNC to ensure that all video footage from Republican debates is able to be shared, re-used, and freely blogged about without the uploader of the video being deemed a lawbreaker.

In 1996, presidential candidates communicated on websites for the first time. In 2000, presidential candidates accepted online contributions for the first time. 2004 ushered in a new type of Internet-based people-powered activism.

In 2008, we need to ensure that the promise of online video is not inhibited. In the past, television stations that broadcast presidential debates have retained exclusive rights to debate footage after the event was over. By and large, such contract terms were not noticed by voters, activists, or news junkies - there was no widespread forum for regular people to share video content even if they wanted to.

But in the age of online video sharing, corporations retaining exclusive rights to debate footage is an obvious barrier to democratic participation. No concerned voter should ever be labeled a lawbreaker for wanting to share video of a presidential debate with others.

We, the undersigned, request that the Republican National Committee publicly urge state parties and other Republican debate sponsors to specify in debate contracts that video footage will be put into the public domain or licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license - so that after the debate, the video will be free for anyone to access, edit, and share with others with proper attribution.

We ask you to follow the lead of C-SPAN, which this year announced they would allow expanded use of their video content by others - paving the way for a more informed electorate through online video sharing.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss details, we'd be happy to make time for that discussion.

Sincerely,
Lawrence Lessig - Professor, Stanford Law School & Founder, Center for Internet and Society
Craig Newmark - Founder of Craigslist
Jimmy Wales - Founder of Wikipedia
Brad Smith - Former FEC Chair, and current Chair of the Center for Competitive Politics
Michael Turk - Former eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee
Michelle Malkin - Conservative columnist and blogger, and founder of michellemalkin.com and hotair.com
Mike Krempasky - Founder of RedState.com
Glenn Reynolds - Professor, University of Tennessee Law, and founder of Instapundit.com blog
Dr. William Green - President, RightMarch.com
Shari Steele, Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fred von Lohmann - Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation (Intellectual Property issues)
Tim Wu - Professor, Columbia Law School & Founder of Columbia's Program on Law & Technology
Cory Doctorow - Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California
Paul Rieckhoff - Executive Director, Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Wade Henderson - President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Kim Gandy - President, National Organization for Women
Andy Stern - International President, SEIU
Karen Ackerman - Political Director, AFL-CIO
Micah Sifry - Personal Democracy Forum and TechPresident.com
Arianna Huffington - Huffington Post
David Moore - Executive Director, Participatory Politics Foundation and OpenCongress.org
Josh Silver - Executive Director, Free Press
Carl Malamud - Founder of Public.Resource.Org
Roger Hickey - Co-director, Campaign for America's Future
John Schwartz - Founder of Free Speech TV
Paul Jay - CEO, Independent World Television
Helen De Michiel - Co-Director, National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture
Nicholas Reville - Co-Founder, Participatory Culture Foundation
Lark Corbeil - Founder & Managing Editor, Public News Service
David Michaelis - Director of Current Affairs, Link TV
Linda Jue - Executive Director, New Voices in Independent Journalism

By washingtonpost.com Editors |  May 16, 2007; 4:27 PM ET Debates
Previous: Recapping the 2nd GOP Debate | Next: South Carolina GOP Politics: Gov. Mark Sanford

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