As video footage and video remix become one of the primary forms of conveying and discussing political issues, we find that video is less permissive than text with respect to copyright. In other words, with text we are accustomed to and legally permitted to quote, annotate and share each other's words in political dialog. However, we find that in the case of video often presidential debates, war footage and many other things that we would like to use in political videos, are protected by copyright. Video has traditionally been treated more as "content".

In the case of video journalism, this "content" falls between the cracks. There is a great article by Rebecca MacKinnon, former Bureau Chief of CNN Japan, about how the focus of CNN changed from journalism to money-making "content" as it shifted from the leadership of Ted Turner to Time Warner.

I believe in amateur journalism and even amateur video journalism. I think projects like The Hub that we are doing at WITNESS are very important. On the other hand, there will always be a role for professional journalism, especially when it comes to wars, corruption and politics because of the cost of deploying and defending, both physically and legally, the journalists sent in to get the stories.

There is a famous moment in video journalism when the Gennifer Flowers scandal was breaking. The heads of the big news networks at the time decided not to run the story. They controlled how and when news broke. However, CNN had started distributing their full news feeds to local news stations allowing local news to edit their own news. Some local networks decided to run the story that they found in the unedited news feeds from CNN and the next day all of the networks opened with the story. See Steven Johnson's Emergence for a good account of this episode.

I think that news networks making their footage available to the public is the next step in this decentralization and the participation of the public in the global dialog. I'm very thankful to Al Jazeera for taking the first step in what I hope will be a more common practice of news agencies making their material available for reuse and remix.

Al Jazeera Launches Creative Commons Repository


Al Jazeera is releasing 12 broadcast quality videos today shot in Gaza under Creative Commons' least restrictive Attribution license. Each professionally recorded video has a detailed information page and is hosted on blip.tv allowing for easy downloads of the original files and integration into Miro. The value of this footage is best described by an International Herald Tribune/New York Times article describing the release:

In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.

More importantly, the permissive CC-BY license means that the footage can be used by anyone including, rival broadcasters, documentary makers, and bloggers, so long as Al Jazeera is credited.

There's more information over at Al Jazeera's CC repository, and in our press release. You can also add the Al Jazeera repository to your Miro feeds by clicking here.

5 Comments

Joi,

What's the best practice for citing content like Al Jazeera's Gaza footage? Does the attribution have to be overlaid on each shot? Or would a note in the credits be sufficient?

Has AJ been licensing other material under CC? If not, it seems somewhat politically expedient of them to enable Gaza content to go social/viral and get remixed/reused. It's totally legit, of course, a wise and respectable move in the long run, but the timing is suspect.

Thanks, Evan

We had been talking to Al Jazeera for a long time about releasing works even before the Gaza events began. We have been talking to many broadcasters in fact, but Al Jazeera was the first to take the plunge. I think that while Gaza is rather politically charged, they do have a lot of exclusive footage since it is difficult for other agencies to get inside and it did make sense for them. Also, remember that people who use their footage don't necessarily have to use it in a way that agrees with their politics.

I typically cite video sources in text underneath during the clip as well as at the end in a credit roll and a link on the website where I post it. I think the key is to do it in a way that seems appropriate to the format you are using.

Congrats on pulling AJ into the CC fold! The fact that AJ content can now be remixed by both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli factions is what's so fascinating. Hopefully it sparks a trend among broadcasters. My sense is that it will add a needed layer of depth to coverage, especially if other media outlets employ the on-screen attribution you mention. Too often TV news is a just a disconnected and repetitive collage of stock images that ends up resembling narrative more than documentary. I think all news images should bear a time and location stamp, even if they're reordered in the editing process. News isn't necessarily that linear, but at least it would add an element of accountability/accuracy.

I think this is what has always lacked in telling a story. I have earn the best told stories are not those that express the facts as told by a journalist, but the story told through a translation from many that have been reached by it, then brought to a synergy that can translate into a piece of history. From here we can determine the direction of the planet's future. Take the example of the bullet that started WW1. If told correctly, it would never have had to and like that. Now Gaza and Israel are in it again, and though no one will get up and say it, resentment is building and anger fostered between the rest of us supporting either side. A show down is eminent. Question is where it will take place..this life, or second life?

I think the main danger with videos is that the pictures presented aren't sensed to be manipulated. Everything that you can see with your own eyes is cosidered to be the truth, which in fact just isn't necessarily true. In my eyes good journalism always has to be objective and I thnik that amateurs do have a great niche by doing so: report without bias.

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