C-SPAN Recognizes Role of Bloggers and Liberalizes Copyright Policies

C-SPAN has recoginzed the changing role of copyright policies with the growth of the blogosphere. Many sites tacitly encourage bloggers to copy portions of their material by including track backs of blogs discussing them. They realize that ultimately this encourages more links to their site. They also realize that the more prominent the blogosphere becomes, the more valuable it is to encourage blogs to discuss their work if they want to have their material be part of the national discussion. C-SPAN is in a unique position as their copyrighted material often includes coverage of public events.

In the past C-SPAN has taken a hard line on enforcing copyright laws. DemBloggers, where many of my posts here are also reprinted, was forced to discontinue posting videos from C-SPAN in 2005. Recognizing the role of bloggers, C-SPAN has announced a new policy:

Advancing its longstanding mission of bringing government closer to the people, C-SPAN announced today two major initiatives designed to greatly expand citizen access to its online video of federal government activities, such as congressional hearings, agency briefings, and White House events. These actions are intended to meet the growing demand for video about the federal government and Congress, in an age of explosive growth of video file sharers, bloggers, and online ‘citizen journalists.’ The policy change is effective immediately.

· C-SPAN is introducing a liberalized copyright policy for current, future, and past coverage of any official events sponsored by Congress and any federal agency– about half of all programming offered on the C-SPAN television networks–which will allow non-commercial copying, sharing, and posting of C-SPAN video on the Internet, with attribution

“Giving voice to the average citizen has been a centerpiece of C-SPAN’s journalism since our network’s founding in 1979,” said, Rob Kennedy, C-SPAN president and co-COO. “As technology advances, we want to continue to be a leader in providing citizens with the tools to be active participants in the democratic process.”

James Fallows reports that C-SPAN even told Nancy Pelosi that she could not use clips from Congressional hearings:

After becoming speaker this year Nancy Pelosi used C-Span clips from the Iraq debates on a site showing what the new Democratic majority was up to.

At that point, C-Span did something unwise. It told Pelosi she had to take the clips off her site, because C-Span held copyright on them. This was even though Pelosi arguably “owned” the material as much as anyone did, since she was the head of the organization whose debates C-Span was showing; even though the proceedings themselves were not closed, commercial, or proprietary in any way; and even though the people shown in the clips were public officials, working on taxpayers’ time.

Eleanor Clift on Gore on the Un-Campaign Trail

Eleanor Clift doesn’t buy Gore’s denials that he is a candidate, and describes his current activitiess as being on the Un-Campaign Trail: 

Since the documentary he starred in, “An Inconvenient Truth,” won an Academy Award, speculation has only increased about Al Gore’s potential entry into the presidential race. He is not taking any overt steps toward running, and that may be the cleverest strategy of all. A Democratic strategist sent Gore a memo sometime ago suggesting he announce, but forgo the traditional campaign trail and continue promoting the cause of global warming. He would be the nonpolitical candidate. Word came back: Gore isn’t running. But in fact he is. Whether it results in an official run depends on what the field looks like six months from now. Laurie David, who helped bankroll Gore’s film, and whose “personal fantasy” is that he run, says that when she presses him, he’s always coy and says his cell phone is breaking up. “I believe him when he says he doesn’t have any intention of running,” David told NEWSWEEK. “But I also believe the door is not completely shut.”

Regardless of whether he intends for this to be part of a political campaign, the timing of his upcoming book is perfect:

Gore is also finishing a book that sure seems like a prelude to something. “The Assault on Reason,” to be published in May, is about “the forces in society that are undermining democracy,” says Roy Neel, Gore’s chief of staff. The manuscript has gone through three rewrites in the past month because of new Bush administration scandals.

This would also play in perfectly with the national sense of buyer’s remourse related to George Bush, leading many to regret that Gore was not allowed to take office in 2001. There was speculation that Gore might announce upon winning the Oscar, but that was too early for his un-campaign strategy. Clift has a more realistic scenario:

Gore undoubtedly knows that he’d lose his iconic status the minute he got in the race. But Earth Day is coming up. Laurie David and Sheryl Crow will lead a college tour that will culminate with a rally in Washington. Perfect setting for a presidential announcement, but Gore won’t be there. He’ll be conducting a virtual reunion of the thousand “climate messengers” he has trained to carry on his crusade.

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Iraq Four Years Later Shows a Mixed Picture

The question of whether life in Iraq is better today compared to before the war is only peripherally relevant to the ultimate question of whether the United States should have invaded, or even as to whether the war has harmed or improved our national security. Still, this seems to be a major topic of discussion on the fourth anniversary. It looks like this is a question similar to the question of having blind men feel part of an elephant and providing a totally different description of their findings as different sources provide different answers.

The Times of London quotes poll findings to argue that many Iraqis find little sign of civil war and find life to be better. The actual poll results finds considerable variation between different groups and regions. NewsHog takes a further look at the findings.

Others looking at Iraq find different results. IPS found that women were better off under Saddam:

”Under the previous dictator regime, the basic rights for women were enshrined in the constitution,” Houzan Mahmoud from the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq told IPS in an interview. The group is a sister organization of MADRE, an international women’s rights group.

Under Saddam, she said, ”women could go out to work, university and get married or divorced in civil courts. But at the moment women have lost almost all their rights and are being pushed back into the corner of their house.”

The recent constitution which was written under the U.S. government’s supervision is ”very backward and anti-women,” Mahmoud said. ”They make Islam the source for law making, and the main official religion of the country. This in itself means Islamic Sharia law and according to this women will be considered second-class citizens and will have no power in deciding over their lives.”

If life is worse for women under Islamic Sharia law, it comes as no surprise that it is even worse for gays. Iraqi LGBT reported last year:

Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. But discrete homosexuality was usually tolerated. Since Saddam’s overthrow, however, Islamist fundamentalists are growing in strength and influence. They want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship. Three leading ayatollahs – Sistani, Baghdadi and Khoei – have recently issued fatwas ordering the execution of gay Iraqis. Their followers in the Badr Islamist militia are now targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for execution.

The father of 23 year old Baghdad arts student, Karzan, has been told by militias that his son has been sentenced to death for being gay. If his father refuses to hand over Karzan for execution, the militia has threatened to kill the family one by one. This has already happened to Bashar, 34, an actor. Because his parents refuse to reveal his hiding place, the Badr fanatics have murdered of his two family members in retribution.

Earlier this year, AlterNet argued that health care was better under Saddam arguing, “Almost four years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s healthcare system is still a shambles. Dozens of incomplete clinics and warehoused equipment are a testament to the failed U.S. experiment to reconstruct Iraq.”

For still another viewpoint, the Project for the New Anarchist Century looks at statistics on the number of people killed to find that conditions are worse now than under Saddam. Things really must be bad for an anarchist organization to find life under a government such as Saddam’s to be preferable.

Update: New polling shows far worse situation in Iraq