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Lessig Launches Open Transition Principles

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the change-is-coming-in-the-form-of-nickels-and-dimes dept.

United States 129

soDean writes "The Principles for an Open Transition and a petition were co-launched by Lawrence Lessig, Mozilla, and the Participatory Culture Foundation today. This was in reaction to the announcement that Obama would be posting his transition videos to YouTube. The petition encourages Obama to publish his transition videos with open licenses, make them available for download, and preferably use royalty free/open video formats and standards. Unless YouTube makes some radical changes, the videos will need to be hosted elsewhere."

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129 comments

Is it the season already? (0)

Abreu (173023) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976163)

Lessig sounds like he's writing letters to Santa...

Re:Is it the season already? (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978407)

As a big fan of Lessig, I completely agree :)

Hmm... angry letters to Santa from RMS. I think I see a book deal (All of you are now under non-disclosure!!! j/k)

Gnash (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976207)

Since gnash can play youtube video, this isn't a restriction in practice. Much ado about very little.

Re:Gnash (2, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976391)

Can you? For me, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. And even when it does work, I've still got that stupid Play symbol superimposed over the video after I click it.

Re:Gnash (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976521)

To be honest, I just use the free flash player - I'm just going by what I've seen people claim. For embedded youtube I know people have used greasemonkey scripts, but I thought youtube.com worked fine.

If I get one I want to keep, ffmpeg does a good job converting them. It's even built-in to the downloadhelper extension for firefox. Once you download the FLV, there are a number of options for viewing.

Re:Gnash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25976515)

I doubt very much that Gnash has payed the licensing fees for whatever patents are on the codecs that Youtube uses.

Re:Gnash (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976963)

Since gnash can play youtube video, this isn't a restriction in practice. Much ado about very little.

Yep, it is a restriction in principle. But most of you, citizens of the US, don't seem to care about principles anymore. What a shame...

Here, bend over, I'll give you a candy.

Re:Gnash (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977151)

I'm not saying that principles aren't important, but talk about scratching at the scab instead of curing the disease...

Obama releasing his videos under this or that yadda, yadda does very little to reform anything at all. A huge portion of the population completely disregards copyright and patent law and instead of offering up any kind of a solution to that, we yell about how Obama needs to conform to something that most Americans will just ignore? Silly and a waste of time.

But hey, go for it. I'm sure somewhere out there is a person who refuses to install anything "illegal" who will now be able to watch some of Obama's videos and sleep well at night.

Re:Gnash (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978821)

Obama releasing his videos under this or that yadda, yadda does very little to reform anything at all.

The point isn't really to make sure that FOSS users can watch the videos.

The point is to make the new administration aware of something important that maybe they haven't thought about. Although there are many workarounds that allow you to save a YouTube video, it's not something YouTube really advertises. So, when somebody posts something to YouTube that is intended to be freely shareable, there are actually some restrictions added to it that make it less easy to share.

In theory, it's possible that these sorts of innocent additional restrictions would require violating the DMCA in order to share some freely shareable copyrighted material. This is the sort of thing that Lessig wants the new administration to be aware of.

Stupid... (4, Interesting)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976237)

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm also fairly certain that copyrightable material produced by the federal government of the United States is automatically public domain and could not be placed under a more restrictive license such as any copyleft. The office of the president elect is under the purview of the General Services Administration, and I imagine would be under similar requirements.

Re:Stupid... (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976281)

Can't he also release them to multiple websites?
Ogg (or what ever the completely open format the cool kids are using these days) on some .gov site and the locked down .flv on YouTube. Most of the populous will view them on YouTube because it's easy and the FOSS hard core still get what they wanted.

Re:Stupid... (2, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977037)

I know it was rhetorical, but the options are:

Video codecs:
  - Dirac -- possibly patent-encumbered, but officially free to use
  - Theora -- might be untested, but claims to be patent-free.

Audio codecs:
  - Vorbis -- sounds as good as AAC on most listening tests; open/free/pantent-free.
  - FLAC -- lossless, and as free as Vorbis.

Container formats:
  - Ogg/ogm -- same camp as Vorbis and Theora
  - Matroska -- uses some binary-xml format for metadata. Seems to support at least as much as Ogg. Not sure what the legal status is, but I suspect it's free. Popular with anime.

Those are the good free ones. Of course, most of us also have high-quality FOSS players for h.264 and AAC delivered as mov, mp4, mkv, even avi (yuck) -- so practically, the biggest change would be to offer it in just about anything other than Flash/Silverlight. (Or the latest version of WMA, for some reason.)

I'd personally prefer vorbis, mkv, and probably Theora, but that's less important than having a reasonable stand-alone (possibly higher-quality) version.

As for your other hypothetical, that's probably how it would go down. Then again, people installed Silverlight to watch the Olympics, so maybe people would install some free codecs to watch the President.

Don Pratt says... (2, Insightful)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976303)

"Don't listen to other people who make these claims. Either they're trying to hook up with you, or THEY'RE LAWYERS!!!"

I'm also fairly certain that material that comes out of that office cannot be copyrighted, and I'm also certain that as long as the videos can be viewed by anyone, the videos have served their purpose.

Re:Stupid... (2, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976381)

If you get work of the federal government from the government, there's no copyright and you can republish as will, or even make a derivative work.

If you make a derivative work, such as adding a C-SPAN logo, or translating the file into a new format, you own the copyright on it. Don't like it? Go get the work from the government yourself and make your own.

The government can hold copyrights (2, Informative)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977125)

As noted above in greater detail, this is not true. From our beloved Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

A work of the United States government, as defined by United States copyright law, is "a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person's official duties."[1] The term only applies to the work of the federal government, not state or local governments. In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act,[2] such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law, sometimes referred to as "noncopyright." As an exception to section 105, 15 U.S.C. Â 290e authorizes U.S. Secretary of Commerce to secure copyright for works produced by the Department of Commerce under the Standard Reference Data Act.[3]

In addition, many publications of the U.S. government contain protectable works authored by others (e.g., patent applications, Securities and Exchange Commission filings, public comments on regulations, etc.), and this rule does not necessarily apply to the creative content of those works.

Also, certain works, particularly logos of government agencies, while not copyrightable, are still protected by other laws similar in effect to trademark laws. Such laws are intended to protect indicators of source or quality. The Central Intelligence Agency logo, for example, cannot be used without permission. This is intended to prevent the appearance of endorsement, under the CIA Act of 1949.[4]

The federal government can hold copyrights that are transferred to it. For example, in 1837, the federal government purchased former U.S. President James Madison's manuscripts from his widow, Dolley Madison, for $30,000;[5] if this is construed as covering copyright as well as the physical papers, it would be an example of such a transfer.[6] More common examples are works of independent contractors, where the contract specifies that the copyright is to be transferred to the government.

This would also apply to works for hire. Government owns the copyright to the contracted work, but it does not become public domain. Further, as noted, the rule only applies to the federal government and not the government as a whole.

I mentioned this in part above, but without references. Seems like it was about time to do so :) The wiki page cites good sources.

Can you read? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25977663)

what part of

In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act,[2] such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law, sometimes referred to as "noncopyright."

don't you understand?

Re:Can you read? (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978627)

Ok, it is not entirely true.

"a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person's official duties" != "a work for hire"

If you get work of the federal government from the government, there's no copyright and you can republish [at] will

The argument completely stands on the word of, which I don't think really puts copyrights held by the federal government into perspective. If of only meant "by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person's official duties", then sure, but I don't think that it is a stretch to interpret what was said as something broader than is actually legally precise.

I can only assume this is what you were questioning in your anonymously posted quip, but if there is some other aspect of this that I "don't understand", I would love to hear about it. But as far as I know, as as much as your post reveals, I thought I was understanding it quite well, imho. Again, any correction (you know, citing examples, references, application of law in context) would be warmly appreciated as this is something I enjoy. I hope none of this is coming off as sarcasm, as it is not my intent.

And just in case this was the issue you didn't clarify, yes, I do understand that Obama is "an officer ... of the U.S. government". This was just about the broader scope of things.

Re:Stupid... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978361)

If you make a derivative work, such as adding a C-SPAN logo, or translating the file into a new format, you own the copyright on it.

I call BS. Adding a logo isn't transformative enough to make the result a derivative work. I could see C-SPAN going after you for trademark infringement, but not copyright infringement.

Re:Stupid... (4, Insightful)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976491)

material produced by the federal government of the United States is automatically public domain

And where I work, YouTube is a blocked website that would prevent me from seeing Obama's messages. Something like transition.whitehouse.gov or speeches.whitehouse.gov would be a more suitable host for these videos.

The new administration should attempt to disassociate itself with corporate giant Google and open standards running on websites that aren't regarded as "a giant waste of time" who's aim is to give every man, woman, and child (no matter how talentless) a platform to "Broadcast Yourself".

Re:Stupid... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976673)

And where I work, YouTube is a blocked website that would prevent me from seeing Obama's messages.

Wouldn't your work be just as opposed to your wasting your time and their bandwidth on Obama messages as on typical boring YouTube stuff?

If you work for the DNC, I obviously retract :)

Re:Stupid... (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976813)

Wouldn't your work be just as opposed to your wasting your time and their bandwidth on Obama messages as on typical boring YouTube stuff?

Oddly, there aren't filters stopping me from hitting Slashdot every couple of hours. I figure this is because it related to the type of technological work that I am involved with on the job. Believe it or not, this site is actually educational.

Now, I'm sure the YouTube has some diamonds in the rough that are educational, too. But keeping up with a small amount of national politics shouldn't be something that employers tell their employees is off limits at work. Especially if their code is compiling [xkcd.com]. So hosting this on sites that aren't popular block targets within the US would be a good thing. And if a US employer blocked whitehouse.gov... well - they would do so at the risk of taking a major karma hit.

Re:Stupid... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976875)

I was just giving you a rough time. I used to run a proxy server at home for my work internet browsing through the comfort of an SSH tunnel. :)

Re:Stupid... (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977393)

But keeping up with a small amount of national politics shouldn't be something that employers tell their employees is off limits at work.

Why not? From my perspective as an employer, it doesn't matter whether they watch stupid teenagers on youtube or equally stupid politicians on whitehouse.gov - every minute they spend on it is a minute where work is not getting done.

Re:Stupid... (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977257)

Agreed. I think it would be ok for Google to host, but the "Obama! Brought to you by Google" is exactly what is going on with YouTube hosting. I also think that YouTube is long overdue for artists to mark their work with a license that enables users to be granted the rights given by the author. In effect, CC work can not be posted on YouTube (in a way that respects the license). YouTube forces you to use their license for your work which is a part of their terms and conditions. I do not see why YouTube can not use a dual license model; let the work on the site be used under the YouTube license per the ToS / EULA, but let users as enabled by the uploader download the video under the license of the artists choice with a default of as it is now to ensure a smooth transition and, for the sake of argument, not push people in needing to understand of decipher what is going on if they choose a CC license (just to be as cynical as possible for the rogue anti-cc people out there. Do those people read Slashdot?).

Re:Stupid... (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976663)

If the Federal Government or contractors ran the cameras, edited, and digitized the footage, then it's a product of the Government and is subject to the public domain criteria you setup.

However, if all the above were done by independent news-reporting corporations, then the copyright to that footage lies firmly in the hands of those corporations with the power to use or licenses them as they see fit.

Re:Stupid... (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977011)

IANAL, but it is worth noting that works for hire for the federal government, even though the copyright is held by the government, the work does not become public domain. Otherwise the government would be at a terrible disadvantage getting people to produce work for them, keeping in mind the government contracts out a LOT of work.

Because the president is not a contractor, but in the employment of the government, he is granted no such protection. The most relevant statute on this was the argument over whether supreme court justices retained copyright over their decisions. Court said no, at least not opinions that were written on company time. If a judge has a blog they maintain outside of work regarding the decisions, they can retain copyright for the portions that are not derivative / uniquely creative... which is arguably a difficult thing to do.

I can not recall the relevant statute, but persons in elected positions have very limited rights in producing creative works while in their elected position. Remember that whole thing about Schwarzenegger having to stop making movies while he was Governator? To the best of my understanding, Obama would not be allowed to maintain a personal blog in the same way that a justice is given protection, but admittedly I am vague on the details.

You do the work. (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976269)

Since the Office of the President Elect (web address: Change.gov) is a federal government office, anything it produces is automatically in the public domain.

But here's the problem with Lessig and company... it costs money to mount a video service, especially something that would be as popular as this is. If The Mozilla Foundation (main funder: Google) is willing to convert and host the videos, then the most likely could get the source from the governement. If they're complaining to YouTube (owner: Google) to change their ways, then they're just biting the hand that feeds them.

This just irks me (5, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976479)

Since when is there an "Office of the President Elect" let alone a seal. Whose ego is driving this anyway?

First, he isn't even the President elect until the 15th (or whenever the electors cast their vote) though the vote is not in doubt, it just is factual to declare the title is not applicable yet.

Second, there is no office of the President Elect, there is no authority other than what the current President grants; I doubt it is even legal for the sitting President to do so.

I don't want to sound like part of the tinfoil hat crowd but all this wrapping oneself in an air of authority/royalty really is marketing gone amok or an ego gone amok. I hope its the marketing side because if its the later we are not in for a good four years.

Re:This just irks me (2, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976595)

I think it makes sense to have a transition website. Calling it an "Office" is simply semantics, and I don't think he means to imply any sort of authority (note that he's repeatedly said that he respects the current administration's control until the inauguration).

Posting his communications on the campaign website wouldn't make much sense because it's no longer a campaign.

Not having a website at all would be completely at odds with the need to communicate with the people.

What would you suggest he do?

Re:This just irks me (5, Informative)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977061)

I imagine his office is acting under the aegis of the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 which allows the General Services Administration to provide offices, funding, training etc. to the person who 'apparently' won the election.

It is not necessary for the electors to have voted, and the Presidential Transition Act is a congressional statute.

Re:This just irks me (1)

whoop (194) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977141)

Don't forget he's got a seal on his podium that's quite close to the presidential seal (bald eagle with arrows, feathers).

Re:This just irks me (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977411)

Obama has been very clear that he's not the President yet. As most commentators have pointed out, the only thing he can do right now is talk to people, and that's the only thing he's trying to do. His press conferences seem to be pretty much "here's who I'm planning on hiring, here's what I'm going to want them to do."

As I see it, the "Office of the President-Elect" is simply a formal name for all the people that are either on his transition team or are expected to become part of his staff or cabinet. It has absolutely no official authority.

Re:This just irks me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25977629)

Whose ego is driving this anyway?

Well, indirectly the Republicans. If they hadn't made such a horrible mess of things by arrogantly following their misguided ideology to the exclusion of pretty much all common sense, Obama wouldn't have to be scrambling so hard to fix things. I imagine that Obama would have loved to take a bit of a vacation after a long and relentless campaign but that's not the situation the Republicans have left him with. If he doesn't convince the general public that he's going to hit the ground running then the whole economy could collapse.

Incidentally, when people got choked up about Obama winning, it wasn't because they thought Obama was something special, it was because they were so overwhelmingly relieved not to have another four years of Republicans driving the country into the ditch.

Re:This just irks me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25977711)

There is in fact an office of the president elect. See the Presidential Transition Act of 1963.

Re:This just irks me (1)

uunh haun (638348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977787)

The office of the president elect has existed since the Presidential Transition Act of 1963.

Re:This just irks me (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978123)

There is an Office of the President Elect funded by the federal budget (for every change of power since the 1960s) currently under the GSA. Obama right now has no power when it comes to laws, but the office is a launching pad for press events so Obama can announce what he will do the moment he goes into power. Executive branch political appointees need to be hired in advance, and some have stock-market moving potential so it's better the news come out slowly than all at once.

Re:This just irks me (2, Informative)

TheoMurpse (729043) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979199)

As for whether he's the President Elect or not, I'd like to quote the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, which created the office:

The term[] "President-elect" . . . as used in this Act shall mean such person[] as [is] the apparent successful candidate[] for the office of the President . . . as ascertained by the Administrator following the general elections held to determine the electors of the President and Vice-President in accordance with title 3, United States code, sections 1 and 2. (Emphasis added.)

Looks to me like he's the president elect under the act that created the office.

Re:You do the work. (2, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976539)

*Is* the Office of the President Elect a part of the federal government, though? AFAIK it's being run by the Obama-Biden Transition Project, which certainly isn't a federal office, regardless of it being hosted on a .gov domain.

That said, Obama et al have responded to Lessig just a little while ago in making Change.gov licensed under CC-BY, rather than just a straight copyright [lessig.org]. (You can also view the Change.gov copyright policy page [change.gov].) Once again, I'm surprised and kinda shocked by how quickly they will respond to people. It's almost like they're responsible to the people or something.

Re:You do the work. (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977435)

I think that technically putting that kind of restriction on the work is not legal, but at the same time I don't think anyone is going to complain, not to mention that, going out on a IANAL limb here, violations of statute must be proven to violate the spirit of the law. Best example I heard of this, pedestrians are required to walk facing traffic if there is no sidewalk; however, if that would be more dangerous than walking with traffic, then there is no violation of statute because the law was intended to protect pedestrians, not just make them walk against traffic. Obama is trying to get his work to the people in a way encouraged by CC. Also mind you that public domain means you can do whatever you want with the work IF you can get your hands on it. There is (sadly) no obligation for the work to be maintained or redistributed in any way, just that you are allowed to do so if you please.

FOIA and similar laws were enacted to get information from the federal government to the people. Obama is working to this end by using a CC license. I see a legal issue arising from CC being to restrictive dubious at best.

Re:You do the work. (1)

uunh haun (638348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977775)

The office of the president elect is part of the federal government and is functionally part of the GSA, according to the Presidential Transition Act of 1963.

Re:You do the work. (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976609)

You could just add the link : http://www.downloadyoutubevideos.com/ [downloadyo...videos.com] The law allows anyone to do this, reformat it into something else and publish it. I agree the government ought to do this, but there are worse ways of releasing a video than Youtube.

Re:You do the work. (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976711)

The law allows anyone to do this, reformat it into something else and publish it.

You were right until you said "and publish it". Copyright protects the right to republish something. Creating a copy in a new media type is usually protected by fair use exemptions, but you don't have the right to republish it unless explicitly granted.

Re:You do the work. (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977539)

Creating a copy in a new media type is usually protected by fair use exemptions

Fair Use is an affirmative defense, not a right, making this a difficult and sadly weak "protection". However, I believe that it was actually the DMCA that explicitly granted rights to backups and copies for te purpose of interoperability. The tricky part is the conflict with the necessity for DRM circumvention to meet those ends and particularly the legality of publishing the methods or software for doing so.

Re:You do the work. (1)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978283)

Technically, not quite.

See, C-SPAN gets its material primarily from government sources. However, the fact they're adding a C-SPAN bug and transmitting it to you means it's theirs to put a copyright on. If you want to make your own newscast with congressional footage, you have to either find the C-Band feed that C-SPAN gets, or ask C-SPAN if you could use theirs. (C-SPAN loves getting their bug out everywhere though, so they usually let people have what they want.)

Re:You do the work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25977219)

is a federal government office, anything it produces is automatically in the public domain.

Unless its a state secret, of course!

A Torrent is free as in beer (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978335)

here's the problem with Lessig and company... it costs money to mount a video service, especially something that would be as popular as this is

Put it in a torrent. Besides costing almost nothing, that would send another, very important, message: it's not illegal to use P2P.

I can post to, and watch, YouTube for "free" (4, Funny)

h4x354x0r (1367733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976327)

And everyone else I know can, too. It's very ubiquitous. If "open/free" makes it any more difficult to access than YouTube, it's toast. With Jelly. And peanut butter. Yum!

Re:I can post to, and watch, YouTube for "free" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25976527)

It says in addition to YouTube.

Yet Again (1)

cabjf (710106) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976357)

Here we have another example of ideology trumping practicality. It costs Obama next to nothing to post the videos to Youtube. Just about anyone with a computer can view them there, and there are programs out there that can download the videos on Youtube.

There would be a lot more work in putting the videos into an open and downloadable format as they would then have to host them somewhere. Not to mention, there are a lot more people surfing Youtube rather than, say, any of the government's sites. To put it another way, if one wants real openness (as in getting the word out about what you are doing), it also helps to avoid obscurity by targeting things people actually pay attention to.

Re:Yet Again (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976573)

there are a lot more people surfing Youtube rather than, say, any of the government's sites

That's not a convincing argument. You don't "surf youtube", you go there because there's a link from somewhere else. And you're not going to view the videos unless you're actively looking for them, or have them pointed out.

But I agree, ideology is trumping practicality here, but I think Lessig's trying to make a point.

Re:Yet Again (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977699)

If we are talking practicality, what is the practicality in posting a weekly YouTube address? People want to know what he is doing and thinking, and I'd even go as far to say that he likely loves listening to the sound of his own voice, but I don't think that is the objective here. I think he sees a bigger picture.

Re:Yet Again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25976701)

The article says in addition to YouTube.

And how hard do you really think it'd be to find hosting for this? You don't think archive.org would host the President's creative-commons public addresses?

Re:Yet Again (1)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976753)

Have you seen Change.gov, the official transition website? I doubt converting and linking a few more video files is "impractical" or "too much work" given the obvious technical ability behind that site.

Openness is not "getting the word out", it is making sure information sought by the public is available. YouTube has no contract with the government to provide hosting service, other than a lopsided EULA. You have no assurance of transparency which is the root of the request in question.

Back to the point- there's nothing wrong with putting videos on government websites. Just because many people love YouTube because it fulfills their desire to watch guys kick kicked in the nuts doesn't mean you should use it to promote your political agenda. A hyperlink in an email, news story or your BFF's blog will work regardless of the hosting server.

Re:Yet Again (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977673)

I am somewhat sadly inclined to agree with your very practical insight. Public Domain means "do what you like, if you can get it". Obama has been trying to do more, and is a big supporter of open / transparent government, and wants to show people how that can help make government better. If he was looking for cheap and simple, he would just get Fox, CNBC or whoever to come in and tape him and just let someone else put it on YouTube. Remember, he kept Lessig on staff as a chief technology advisor; I doubt that was ano kind of coincidence cause "he is into technology".

In line with trying to further extend what Obama is trying to do differently in this methodology, I think it would be inline with the overall philosophy to get neutral hosting and bring a little more dignity to public domain / the commons than simply letting people do whatever if they can get their hands on it. A step in that process is to make an open format easily available. This is worth investing in, and I look forward to seeing what steps he takes to empower people with this "transition".

Re:Yet Again (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978487)

While I would agree that not hosting on Youtube would be dumb, depending entirely on a service that might implode one day isn't really the best idea either, and a secondary hosting with a .mpeg and .oga (I think? whatever .oggs counterpart is) file for each won't be costly as long as youtube keeps running.

Principle of the thing (1, Interesting)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976369)

The weekly videos are a step in the right direction. But I was hoping to see more frequent communications from a variety of different faces on the transition team, talking about their progress and the work they're doing.

I just want to see open and honest government, and a three minute communique every week doesn't really do that for me. I liked the press conference Monday, but I feel like I want to be able to see more. I want my government to finally be accountable!

Re:Principle of the thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25976637)

What's funny about this attitude is that many of us would be totally against it if it were happening in our workplace. Thank about it. Your boss says "I want you to give me a status update every hour on exactly what you and your team have done so far." I'm for an open and accountable government, but I think some of you are taking it a little too far.

Re:Principle of the thing (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976745)

Personally, I accept that government is different. What we call corruption in government is accepted practice in the private sector. I'd rather leave the government slow and open than corrupt and efficient. It's artificial and annoying to those that work in government, but oh well.

Re:Principle of the thing (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976921)

I just want to see open and honest government

I hate to disillusion you, young fellow, but I've been voting since Nixon was in office and I think you'll see unicorns before you see an open and honest US Federal Government.

Re:Principle of the thing (1)

rssrss (686344) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978053)

MCGrew is correct. Further, Obamatrons, you have been played. The permanent government is back in the saddle and ready to ride. Nothing is going to change. Nothing at all. Now, go back to your video games.

Re:Principle of the thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25978833)

Ah, the nattering nabobs of negativism have returned! There's nothing quite like good old American cynicism and pessimism. But you guys were wrong in 2000. Ironically, Bush's greatest accomplishment has been to prove once and for all that there really *is* a difference between the candidates. One candidate can be slightly (or drastically) better than the other. Now, you might think that change can only exist in a downward spiral, but that's not the same thing as there being no possibility for change at all.

Re:Principle of the thing (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979189)

Ah, the nattering nabobs of negativism have returned!

Spiro? Is that you? I thought you were dead? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Principle of the thing (1)

GryMor (88799) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978837)

On the subject of unicorns, I wonder what it would take to splice the narwhal genes for their tusk into a horse?

Am I missing somthing? (1)

tylerni7 (944579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976387)

I don't see any issues here.
Anything made by the government should already be available with an open license, and I'm pretty sure that YouTube will be willing to bend a few policies for the President of the United States if they are asked.
I also don't think that it would be difficult for someone working with Obama to just convert the videos to various open formats and put them up on the official White House website, as well as YouTube so Joe the Plumber can watch them easily. (Most people wouldn't watch the videos if they couldn't just find them immediately on YouTube.)

I don't think they need a whole petition, none of this is hard to do. Just ask nicely and I think Obama would gladly agree? Or is there some large problem I'm missing here because I didn't read the article?

Re:Am I missing somthing? (1)

grikdog (697841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978075)

Except for ripping off Smokey the Bear for commerce, or putting President-elects on pirate mintage, of course. What you're missing is the fun part of tacky and tasteless, viz., sucking pennies out of the braindead.

yeah and (1)

prozaker (1261190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976469)

it also says to download the article in "pdf" format.

where is the "standard, universal format" ?

it makes me think it's just an article to ripe on you tube.

Re:yeah and (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976831)

it also says to download the article in "pdf" format.

where is the "standard, universal format" ?

I RTFA and it was HTML, not PDF. Where's your PDF link? I see no PDF links from either the article or the summary.

Re:yeah and (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976835)

PDF is a standard, universal, format. The standard document can be downloaded by anyone with no fees and can be implemented by anyone. There are six independent implementations of the standard that I know of, and possibly others.

YouTube making a pretty penny (2, Insightful)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976597)

How much ad revenue has YouTube made off of ChangeDotGov fireside chats? I know the particular page has no ads on it, but the press they are getting is phenomenal. Also visitors who path through the site to get to ChangeDotGov are generating revenue for them.

If Obama wants to be fair to commerce he shouldn't align his content solely with YouTube.

Re:YouTube making a pretty penny (1)

droopycom (470921) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977545)

How much the Networks, Cable News Channels and Newspapers are making on ads revenues as a result of government actions ?

Geez, how much did they make thanks to the iraq war news coverage ?

Why should we care if YouTube if making a buck out of a *Service* they are rendering to you as a citizen (making it easy to find information about what your governement is doing) and as a taxpayer (making it easy and cheap for the government to publish) ?

Blip.tv (1)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976621)

According to this version of blip.tv's wikipedia article, [wikipedia.org] Lessig has praised blip.tv [www.blip.tv] for already meeting some of these standards.

In general, blip.tv is an open platform. It offers direct download links for all videos it hosts, including videos that it has transcoded (i.e. Flash videos). This led Creative Commons founder Larry Lessig to call blip.tv a "true sharing site" (along with Flickr and Eyespot, among others) in contrast to YouTube's "fake sharing site" because blip.tv "explicitly offers links to download various formats of the videos it shares." [1]

The actual source is an article on Lessig's blog [lessig.org].

i fully support this if only for the fact (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976651)

that i with lessig can now ask people online if theyre "down with OTP"

The comments so far are missing it (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976727)

No Legal Barrier to Sharing
Both Senator McCain and President-elect Obama endorsed this principle in the context of presidential debate video rights. The same principle should apply to the transition. Change.gov now respects this principle

Seems to be no problem there

No Technological Barrier to Sharing
For example, while content may be posted on a particular site such as YouTube, because YouTube does not authorize videos on its site to be downloaded, transition-created content should also be made available on a site that does permit downloads.

As a lawyer rather than a technologist, perhaps Professor Lessig doesn't realise that a YouTube video must be downloaded to be viewed, at least in a manner that would have the RIAA sue you if it was one of their copyrighted works.

However, having someone in the White House seed torrents wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Free Competition
Governments should remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas. Transition-generated content should thus not be made publicly available in a way that unfairly benefits one commercial entity over another, or commercial entities over noncommercial entities.

For example, if video of a press conference is made available in real time to television networks, it should at the same time be made accessible in a standard, universal format for download and sharing. The transition team's decision to make press conference video available on its website is a step in the right direction

I really don't understand #3 at all. If it's free, and in the public domain as other commenters have pointed out, what's the problem?

Last, the summary isn't very good. It isn't just Lawrence Lessig, the document was also signed by:
Change Congress
Shari Steele for the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Josh Silver, Free Press
Mozilla
OpenCongress
Participatory Culture Foundation
Participatory Politics Foundation
Students for Free Culture
Ellen Miller for the Sunlight Foundation
Xiph.Org Foundation
Cory Doctorow for Boing Boing/Happy Mutants LLC
William Vass, President and COO for Sun Microsystems Federal
Adam Green, Moveon.org
Eli Pariser, Moveon.org
David Colarusso, communityCOUNTS.com
Dan Gillmor, Center for Citizen Media
Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films
Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive
David W. Kralik, americansolutions.com
Lawrence Lessig
Tim O'Reilly
Micah Sifry, editor, techPresident.com
Clay Shirky
Aaron Swartz
Jimmy Wales
Mitchell Kapor
John Amato - Founder of Crooksandliars.com
Matt Stoller
Jonathan Zittrain

Re:The comments so far are missing it (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976923)

As a lawyer rather than a technologist, perhaps Professor Lessig doesn't realise that a YouTube video must be downloaded to be viewed, at least in a manner that would have the RIAA sue you if it was one of their copyrighted works.

Perhaps as a technologist rather than a lawyer, you don't realize that this claim is untrue. Even the RIAA is not so stupid as to attempt to reopen the cached copy issue. Streaming media, regardless of browser caching, is not a reproduction until and unless it is copied from the cache to a normal, persistent directory. In the case of YouTube, neither are you distributing if you're simply a viewer. A torrent is a different story.

Re:The comments so far are missing it (2, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976927)

I really don't understand #3 at all. If it's free, and in the public domain as other commenters have pointed out, what's the problem?

The issue with #3 is fair competition. For example, they might release a video press release to the major network, and then a day later post a lower-quality version on their website for download. In this case, the major networks were receiving preferential treatment (both because they were given earlier access and access to a higher-quality version).

The point is that in addition to openness, there should be fairness: the content should be made available to everyone (citizens, news outlets, corporations, etc.) at the same time, with the same quality, with the same "ease", and under the same terms. This means that companies are able to compete fairly in their dissemination/commentary/reporting/whatever (instead of one company having an advantage of some sort). This also means that citizens have the same opportunities for analysis/commentary/mashup that corporations do.

Re:The comments so far are missing it (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977999)

As a lawyer rather than a technologist, perhaps Professor Lessig doesn't realise that a YouTube video must be downloaded to be viewed, at least in a manner that would have the RIAA sue you if it was one of their copyrighted works.

The RIAA would most likely lose that case. More relevant is the question of the legality and practicality of saving those YouTube videos and sharing them, or of using them in any way other than simply viewing them. For instance, the videos may be licensed under creative commons, but how easy is it to pull a clip from a YouTube video and put it in another video?

Point is, there's nothing wrong with putting it on YouTube to make it easy for most people, who don't care about these things. It might be nice if they didn't give Google/YouTube so much free advertising, but it would get up there anyway, if distributed via some other means.

But there absolutely should be an alternative -- an officially endorsed, easy way to download a better-quality original and remix it into something else.

Re:The comments so far are missing it (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978163)

For instance, the videos may be licensed under creative commons

There is no license; they're public domain.

Re:The comments so far are missing it (2, Insightful)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978363)

perhaps Professor Lessig doesn't realize that a YouTube video must be downloaded to be viewed, at least in a manner that would have the RIAA sue you if it was one of their copyrighted works.

Not only does Lessig understand this, he wrote a book addressing the issue, aside from it being a note in most everything he does; Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. He mentions in a number of speeches and such that copyright is a law that comes into effect when a 'copy' is made. "Reading a book, sharing a book, selling a book, and sleeping on a book don't make copies, so there no 'trigger' for copyright law". What has thrown the whole system into chaos is that in the digital world "every act creates a copy, thus every use is regulated". When you view a web site, it makes a copy in menory on your computer. every time a packet runs through a router, the information is copied and recopied for it to reach its destination. In this respect it makes as much sense to call this copying as it is tp say that reading puts a copy of the book in your head. It is true, but I don't think that was the intent of the law.

To stress the point, what you say he "doesn't realize" is really what he has built an entire career upon trying to explain to people.

MPEG4 available beginning this week (3, Informative)

jsjacob (94841) | more than 5 years ago | (#25976765)

This week the videos are available in MPEG4 format. Is that open enough?

http://change.gov/newsroom/blog/ [change.gov]

Re:MPEG4 available beginning this week (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977719)

As far as 'open enough', the only truly open video format that I'm aware of is Ogg Theora [theora.org]. As someone else mentioned, MPEG anything is patent encumbered.

Re:MPEG4 available beginning this week (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978143)

In a word, no.

It's a massive step forward, and practically, if we are willing to infringe on several patents, there is plenty of open support for mpeg4.

However, there are said patents. To be legal, significant royalties must be paid for the use of said patents, even when coding from scratch. (This is why software patents are such poisonous bullshit, by the way -- it doesn't matter how clean your cleanroom implementation is.)

A professional encoding suite is prohibitively expensive -- on the order of several thousand dollars. The royalties are also likely excessive, if you want to write your own encoder (and stay legal).

Which means that the President Elect either does not anticipate anyone actually wanting to use their creative-common rights about these videos, or is asking us to choose between spending a significant amount of money to large, established corporations for that right (hurting main street, helping wall street), or is asking us to break the law.

In short, it's a pretty shitty thing to do, when these free codecs exist, and have plenty of free software to back them up. Even if we accept that there's some reason for the office to prefer creating the initial video with expensive, proprietary software, it should not be difficult to transcode from that to a free codec -- and at least then, any licensing/royalties would be paid once, by change.gov, and not every time, by every single law-abiding citizen who wants to participate.

Only in the way I approve of. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25976979)

What a blowhard move. It comes off as (read in a snobby self-rightious tone)"If you're going to be transparent, you must only do it in the way that _I_ and my other pretentious a-hole freinds approve of. Otherwise, don't even bother, it won't be relevant." This is almost as stupid as Greenpeace slamming on Apple for making a greener laptop by complaining about all their other products.

Ummmm..... (1)

FooGoo (98336) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977327)

Do people really care about this? Are the transition team videos something people are clamoring for? They seem to be of very little value unless you need some change/hope porn to get your fix now that the election is over.

Re:Ummmm..... (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977683)

Yes, and they shouldn't.

They should be watching American Idol and remain totally oblivious to the actions being taken by the administration that is currently forming and preparing to assume power in the Federal Government. Equally, the Obama administration is going about this totally the wrong way. How can they possibly run the government with everything in the open like that. Merely not recording it isn't good enough, they should do like the Bush administration and hide as many things as they can, being as secretive as possible.

Of course transparency in government is bad, it leads to accountability. Setting precedent for that is terrible.

Re:Ummmm..... (1)

FooGoo (98336) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978321)

Who will hold him accountable? Who help Bush accountable, who held Clinton accountable, who held all the rest accountable. The problem is not transparency the problems in there is no one to hold any politician accountable....they certainly don't fear the public. The only time politicians are held accountable is when their usefulness to those who crave power is at an end...then their peers and supporters turn on them. Politicians stay in power by being useful to those crave power and that does not lend itself to open and transparent decision making.

We are the ones who crave power but the only thing we have to offer is a short term contract. So they support those who can provider longer term benefits. The Clintons wheren't millionaires before entering public office but they are now. They didn't get all that cash from us. (Just the most recent example and certainly not the only one). The Obamas aren't millionaires now but I wonder if they will be in 5-10 years.

Re:Ummmm..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979173)

The Clintons weren't millionaires before entering public office but they are now. They didn't get all that cash from us. (Just the most recent example and certainly not the only one). The Obamas aren't millionaires now but I wonder if they will be in 5-10 years.

Bill Clinton made millions on his book. He continues to make millions giving speeches. I expect that Obama will write a book and give speeches as well. We don't require our presidents to take a lifelong oath of poverty.

already on Bittorrent (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 5 years ago | (#25977521)

We're working on the assumption that Title 17 USC 105 applies to these works as results of official duties of an officer or employee of the United States Government, which would make the videos produced public domain content.

We have volunteers posting them onto Bittorrent now:
http://beta.legaltorrents.com/creators/101-changegov [legaltorrents.com]

and notifications go out onto Twitter, Facebook, and onto custom RSS and email feeds to our members on LegalTorrents

Does this mean we add Lawrence Lessig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25977609)

... to the list of worn-out figures whose relevance has declined so far that they resort to inserting themselves into every trendy news story and how it needs to be made "free" for sycophantic geeks who refuse to use the same file formats as everyone else?

Other distinguished members include Eric S Raymond and Richard Stallman, among many others.

Seriously, though, nearly every digital recording system these days uses MPEG-4, if not natively then as an intermediate stage. If you object to the government distributing files in patent-encumbered formats because using those formats is immoral, you're not avoiding MPEG-4, you're just getting someone else to do your dirty work for you (i.e., converting into Theora). And that's DEFINITELY immoral.

Just post it on whitehouse.gov in ogg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25978135)

Then let the community figure out the rest. Similar to getting content like The Dark Knight on Youtube within 1 week, I'm confident the community will find the best way (i.e. place) to get the content posted and in the best format, regardless if its on a restrictive system or not.

.

This is all about control of that public domain information, by Obama, by the USGov, by corporations, by telcos.

If it's really public domain material, just post it on the main access point, e.g. whitehouse.gov. For all it matters it'll end up on the bittorrent sites--more efficient in the long run.

My mother in law asked about this (1)

bmajik (96670) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978633)

Her: "Is there a way you can save videos off of youtube and watch them later?"
Me: "i'm sure there's some browser plugin or other 3rd party tool that lets you do it, but I don't think youtube allows it explicitly. Why?"
Her: "I want to download and save all of the Obama videos. I'm worried that they're going to change or disappear later"

There are a surprising number of videos that get axed from youtube for what would appear to be politically motivated reasons.

The ease of changing or erasing information in the digital domain is offset by the ease of replicating it. But if something curtails the ease of replication, digital information is potetially much more amenable to disinformation or manipulation.

Uh... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#25978871)

First off, is the transition team a government entity? Does it in reality have any association with the US Government at all? I suspect it does not. Therefore, all the yammering about the videos being in the public domain may not apply at all. The videos may be created by an independent contractor paid for as part of the non-governmental transition. The transition team is not paid by taxpayer funds, you know...

If these videos are in fact public domain, then I can create my own version of them. For humor, parody or any other purpose whatsoever. I can use this source material and inter-edit it with anything else I would like to and publish the results. Is this a good idea? Let's have a contest for the most outrageous, over-the-top video composed of at least 20% Obama public-domain video and see what we get, shall we?

Take that a step further (1)

TomRC (231027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979061)

Obama should tell all media that while they are free to make any recordings (still, audio, video) they wish to of him - since he's a public figure - but that all such recordings - the portions including him - must be fully Open and public domain if they want to use his image/voice for their commercial benefit.

Any "internet lawyers" who'd care to comment on the legalities/illegalities of that?

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