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Liberating & Restricting C-SPAN's Floor Footage

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the bye-bye-insomnia dept.

The Media 97

bigmammoth writes "C-SPAN's bid to "liberate" the House and Senate floor footage has re-emerged and been shot down. In an aim to build support a recent New York Times editorial called for reality TV for congress. But what is missing from this editorial is the issue of privatization and the subsequent restriction of meaningful access to these media assets. Currently the U.S. government produces this floor footage and it is public domain. This enables projects such as metavid to publicly archive these media assets in high-quality Ogg Theora using all open source software, guaranteeing freely reusable access to both the archive and all the media assets. In contrast C-SPAN's view-only online offerings disappear into their pay for access archive after two weeks and are then subject to many restrictions." (Continues)"If C-SPAN succeeds, reusable access to floor footage will be lost and sites such as metavid will be forced to stop archiving. Because of C-SPAN's zealous IP enforcement metavid has already been forced to take down all already 'liberated' committee hearings which are C-SPAN produced. Fortunately, the house leadership sees private cameras as a loss of 'dignity and decorum' and will be denying C-SPAN's request."

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97 comments

I can't be the only one... (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375230)

...That misread that as C-PAN, and couldn't figure out what Perl had to do with the senate. Ugh, it's far too early in the morning for rational thought.

What is this rational thought you speak of? (5, Funny)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375244)

Ugh, it's far too early in the morning for rational thought.
And yet not too early to post on slashdot. This says a lot.

Ouch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375298)

Et tu, Brute?

Re:Ouch! (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375304)

No, this isn't Brute. You must have the wrong person.

Re:What is this rational thought you speak of? (2, Funny)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378012)

I think it's already a pretty well-known fact that rational thought is not a prerequisite for posting on Slashdot.

Re:What is this rational thought you speak of? (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378880)

And yet not too early to post on slashdot

You can complain about it, or you can embrace it. But you can not stop it.
Nobody has that much karma.

Good ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375248)



This must be a good thing if it bugs slashdotters.

Re:Good ! (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376116)

Having the video record of your government in action being controlled by a third party who wants to use it for their own commercial benefit is a good thing? Nice troll.

C-span is pointless. In this modern age, the only thing that excuses the fact that all the senate/house deliberations aren't available on the house/senate websites in a downloadable non-proprietary format is the fact that those two groups are made up of technological retards.

Seriously. There is no better definition of public domain. That content should be out there and viewable by more than just a few jaded press correspondents.

Re:Good ! (1)

rblancarte (213492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377028)

Well I will say that C-SPAN does have the advantage of being publicly availible to most people. The vast majority of houses have TVs in them. If they have cable, C-SPAN allows for them to have access to some of the information of the House and Senate.

Now, I will agree that their move to privatize this SUCKS, and is wrong. I also agree that all content should be 100% publicly availible. But for now, because Joe Q. Average American is not that tech savy, I think C-SPAN has a place.

RonB

Re:Good ! (2, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377144)

Before election: "Republicans are evil! The Democrats will provide the most open and ethical Congress in history! Just you wait, even C-SPAN will be allowed to broadcast live (so that congressman can't edit and revise the record as they already do before it's made public)!"

After election: "Those poor Democrats! They're being bullied by another evil corporation who wants to restrict something that's oh-so-open-and-free! Who cares about live, unedited coverage of house proceedings? We want the edited tablescraps that Congress decides we're worthy enough to view. When members of Congress start their speeches asking for unanimous support to revise the record later, that's a-okay because Nancy Pelosi is super-terrific!"

Re:Good ! (1)

semafour (774396) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378182)

Before election: "Republicans are evil! The Democrats will provide the most open and ethical Congress in history! Just you wait, even C-SPAN will be allowed to broadcast live (so that congressman can't edit and revise the record as they already do before it's made public)!"

Can you actually attribute that quote to somebody, or do you just enjoy arguing with strawmen?

Re:Good ! (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378280)

Not sure where this becomes an ethics breach or a bit of partisan hackery...They're upholding a precident that's been in place for more than a decade.

C-Span's argument that they ought to be allowed to pan the room and take congressional "reaction shots" seems idiotic to me. Who gives a crap what their reaction is? What's important is what's going on at the damn speakers podium, and I don't want to miss any of that because some jackass producer thinks that I'm interested in what the redneck representative from Virginia is flicking at his new Muslim archenemy.

Re:Good ! (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378910)

C-Span's argument that they ought to be allowed to pan the room and take congressional "reaction shots" seems idiotic to me. Who gives a crap what their reaction is? What's important is what's going on at the damn speakers podium, and I don't want to miss any of that because some jackass producer thinks that I'm interested in what the redneck representative from Virginia is flicking at his new Muslim archenemy.

Most of the time, their is no audience.... most of the time, congress critters don't even show up to vote (vote by proxy).

Re:Good ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17379094)

>> Most of the time, their is no audience.... most of the time, congress critters don't even show up to vote (vote by proxy).

That's exactly it. I'm not partisan one way or the other, but I'll bet if you analysed the attendance records you would find that more of pelosi's party are the ones not showing up.

Re:Good ! (1)

jeffkjo1 (663413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17384978)

most of the time, congress critters don't even show up to vote (vote by proxy).

My understanding is this was done away with some years ago. Congressmen/women, have to vote in person now.

Re:Good ! (1)

ral315 (741081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380698)

I don't think that's what anyone's saying. I wish idiots like you would quit trying to make everything partisan- this seems to be a simple question of whether C-SPAN should have control of the footage. Personally, I'm open to more cameras and more footage, if Congress owns the footage. If C-SPAN won't have that, then I'm fine with the footage we have.

Re:Good ! (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17383604)

The Democrats are not in power until next year.

Re:Good ! (1)

bigmammoth (526309) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378318)

Making that content freely available is exactly what metavid is trying to do. This is important because if C-SPAN gets control of the cameras we will have to take down future floor footage as well. We have already been forced by C-SPAN to take down the committee hearings. See our most recent blog post [ucsc.edu] for more info

What? You don't like your own poison? (4, Insightful)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375272)

the house leadership sees private cameras as a loss of 'dignity and decorum'


If you've got nothing to hide...

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (3, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375288)

Err... they're videotaping anyway. The only difference is who gets to own the tape afterwards. The public or some private company that's seeking to maximize its own profits at the expense of the freedoms of the people.

I don't see how they're avoiding they're "own poison" and "hiding stuff."

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375408)

I don't see how they're avoiding they're "own poison" and "hiding stuff."

If anything, I am surprised that they are refusing to privatize this information. I would expect any congressthief to jump at the chance of private ownership of the recordings, because that's just one step away from only releasing edited footage. I guess C-SPAN just hasn't hired a lobbyist who can explain that clearly enough.

I suggest they hire George Orwell to lobby this issue, he said it pretty well:
Who controls the past controls the future.
Who controls the present controls the past.

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375426)

I think Congress is waiting for a bigger bribe.

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

LuYu (519260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17385082)

If anything, I am surprised that they are refusing to privatize this information. I would expect any congressthief to jump at the chance of private ownership of the recordings, because that's just one step away from only releasing edited footage. I guess C-SPAN just hasn't hired a lobbyist who can explain that clearly enough.

It appears to me that this is a conflict of two distinct issues. C-SPAN wants to a) copyright the information and b) control the cameras. While the activists are right to object to the first issue, the House clearly refused because of the second issue.

Currently, there are a limited number of cameras in the House, and those cameras are controlled by House staff. C-SPAN sounds like they are trying to put a webcam on every congressman's desk. I imagine congress would be quite a different beast if such a thing were implemented. There are millions of people on the net and quite enough political fanatics among them to watch every congressman during every minute they attend every session. This is obviously not what our Represetatives want. They want us limited to a controlled view while we are led to believe that we actually know what is going on. C-SPAN is seeking to destroy this.

However, as I stated above, C-SPAN is also using this issue to line their pockets at the expense of The People. Corporate ownership of such information would most likely me marginally, if not greatly, worse than the current situation. All information the Legislature generates must be in the public domain. Otherwise, we risk having access to public decisions restricted to those who can afford to pay for it.

Solution (never to be implemented): Congress has a webcam installed on every desk. As many cameras are installed as C-SPAN likes. Cameras can be viewed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by anybody on the Internet. No editing or tampering is permitted before distribution. Everything is live, and everything is recorded.

Now, let us see who can talk the House and Senate into that.

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377168)

Let's see--a company providing live, unedited footage as it happens, or a Congress that often starts its speeches with a call for the ability to edit the record later before it's released to the public ("at the expense of the freedoms of the people"). Apparently, you are 100% for the latter.

They are absolutely hiding stuff. Congress edits its record all the time before it's released. C-SPAN messes that all up, and Nancy Pelosi ain't gonna have that happening in her "most open and ethical Congress in history."

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

MidoriKid (473433) | more than 7 years ago | (#17382496)

All is not as it appears. C-SPAN wants to cover everything that happens on the floor. As it is now the House controlled cameras don't cover the entire room and are forbidden from certain areas all together. No pan or zoom and broadcast of votes is delayed by two hours.

What's the point of free access to archived footage if you can't tell what is actually happening?

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376072)

If they act anything like Canadian Parliament used to, they should be embarassed. They're far too old to be acting like kindergarteners fighting over scraps of pork-barrel lunch.

Taxes from the general public pay the politicians and all government services. The people own the media, not some artificial corporation designed to get around FOI legislation.

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (0, Troll)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377034)

That house leadership being Nancy Pelosi. Now, what happened to all those pre-election promises about "the most open and ethical Congress in history?" After Murtha and other corrupt Democrats, now we find another promise broken. What a lame-duck House Speaker.

It will be interesting to see if all the anti-Bush Slashdotters who rattled on and on about the evil Republicans and their closed access will turn those criticisms onto the new Democratic Congress which is already divided between old-school liberals like Pelosi and these new conservative pro-gun, anti-abortion Democrats who won last November and voted against the corrupt Murtha.

Then again, this is the party with Sandy Berger, who can steal documents and hide them under a trailer and nobody bats an eye nor questions the claim that the 9/11 Commission already had copies. But if he was a Republican working for the Bush administration...

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377238)

From your usage of "lame-duck" (this word, it does not mean...), it comes as no surprise that you don't see another layer of "politician" that covers all parties. It's an old principle of power to find ways of turning the constituents against each other and it looks like you've fallen for the partisan bait.

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378832)

I'm actually very comfortable trading congresscritter reaction shots and wide sweeping pans of the chambers for public domain footage that's not encumbered by copyright.

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377274)

If you've got nothing to hide...

Funny how a problematic rationale sounds pretty good when the shoe is on the other foot, eh?

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (2, Insightful)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379440)

The difference is that technically we PAY THEIR SALARY. Why shouldn't the bosses know what's going on in the main center of the workplace?

Re:What? You don't like your own poison? (1)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380162)

Nobody's demanding to monitor everything they do 24 hours a day, just the time that they are in session and doing their jobs that we pay them to do. Many employers already record their employees while they're working and you don't see people getting too upset over that. It's what people do in their own personal time that they want to be able to keep private.

The intarweb ate my balls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375282)

The cantonrep.com link crashes my browser (Firefox 1.5.0.9). Must be all that ad-cruft clogging my tubes. However, the printable version [cantonrep.com] works fine.

Your bias is blinding you. (1, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375292)

Fortunately, the house leadership sees private cameras as a loss of 'dignity and decorum' and will be denying C-SPANS request."
There is nothing fortunate about this at all. The house leadership merely want to retain contol over what is recorded so the voters dont get to see their representatives asleep/absent/making complete tits of themselves, and it makes it easier to hide any dissention.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375314)

So are these videos edited, only turned on at very specific times (with C-SPAN having the option to turn them on in more times), fixed while C-SPANS' would have been rotatable?

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375334)

C-SPAN wanted more control over where the camera was pointing, not just where they are currently told to point it.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375362)

If that's the only benefit they're offering I disagree and believe it is fortunate they didn't get control. Being able to point the camera somewhere new seems a very minor benefit compared with how much control the people would lose.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (2, Insightful)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376050)

If they were allowed to point the cameras anywhere else but at the person speaking, voters might notice that the room is mostly empty. If voters knew how little time Congresscritters actually spent "in Congress" they might get upset at the ridiculus salary the goof offs get paid.

All members of Congress should be paid the average wage of the U. S., they might do something to actually help people then. Remember: If you make less than $145,000, you have NO representation in Washington. They work for their tax bracket and the higher ones they aspire to.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376104)

Right, but that benefit needs to be gained in a manner where the disadvantages aren't so large. IMO owning the copyright to the videos of your Congress in session is something you don't give away for something like that.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376166)

Congress makes their own rules which are not nessisarily the same as the ones they make for everyone else to follow. They are not going to allow something that makes them look as lazy and ineffectual as they are.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

Politburo (640618) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378060)

Remember: If you make less than $145,000, you have NO representation in Washington.

Furthermore, if you actually live in Washington, you don't get representation. How's that for irony.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379924)

Arrgh! They shouldn't get paid that much! I'm going to write my...uh...overpaid Congressman?

I know! I'll vote for the person who will promise to lower his own wage and keep it! Anyone? Anyone? Dang.

they should be paid much more (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380100)

Not that they deserve it, but this is necessary to help them resist bribes.

Re:they should be paid much more (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#17382596)

Not that they deserve it, but this is necessary to help them resist bribes.

No, any congressperson who accepts a bribe should do 20 years minimum in a medium security or better prison. That should help them resist bribes.

Re:they should be paid much more (1)

silentbozo (542534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17382602)

Given that in many districts, the price of a successful re-election campaign runs into the millions of dollars, we'd have to pay them a hell of a lot to resist the odd hundred-thousand here, and the odd hundred-thousand there (in PAC/soft money contributions, of course).

I'd rather that for every amendment, or bill, each congresscritter give up a portion of their salary to fund that piece of legislation - the bigger the appropriation or earmark, the bigger the chunk that comes out of their salary. If the congresscritter makes enough in tips to break even, no harm done. If the congresscritter doesn't spend any money, no harm done. If the congressscritter goes broke, but wins the hearts of voters, they get to come back in and (theoretically) do good on behalf of voters - at the cost of their previous year's salary.

Of course, it will never happen. Not when the entire government treats the citizens like a never-ending piggybank...

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 7 years ago | (#17383860)

All members of Congress should be paid the average wage of the U. S.
Not the average, the median. The distribution is skewed too high to the top earners.

Median household income in the US in 2004 was around 45,000.

OTOH, the point of paying legislators well is that then the will (supposedly) be less susceptible to bribes. Bribes now, however, aren't about personal lifestyle, they are about getting re-elected. If the positions available paid less, then there would be fewer bribes^D^D^D^D^D^Dcorporate campaign contributions.

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (1)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17387986)

The advantage of paying them less is it would make the job less attractive. Then we might get back to what the founding fathers intended; a citizen legislature that goes to Washington, gets the job done and returns home to real jobs.

My sig states my support of this idea!

Re:Your bias is blinding you. (2, Insightful)

lysdexia (897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376892)

It is completely obvious (to me at least) that all recorded media in open sessions of congress should be recorded at taxpayer expense and entered into the congressional record. (How much would you pay per diem to see your congresscritter behaving exactly as s/he behaves? I'd rather pay for an AV record of congress than for a strategic helium reserve ...) The precedent is there with our existing "paper" congressional record. (Of course, it might be a little different if the affected official would like to go back and "amend" their recording ... those of you old enough to remember the "We Are the World" video might want to ponder Michael Jackson's soft-focus glitter edits that stuck out like a necrotizing 'hroid).

Of course, I'm a big, fat, hippie loser who thinks that all electronic voting machines should have their source code and schematics made public for a reasonable period before being implemented, so feel free to mock.

yeah, well (3, Insightful)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375296)

C-SPAN bid to "liberate" the House and Senate floor footage has re-emerged and been shot down.

They only want to "liberate" it to the extent that they control ownership. They're not interested in liberation of the footage in the true sense.

Re:yeah, well (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375392)

Exactly like how accuweather wants to liberate the NOAA weather information into their bank accounts.

Text Video (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375322)

Everything that happens on the floor ends up in the Congressional Record anyway, which is publicly available within a couple days of it happening. It's text, which means it's searchable, which makes it a ton better than video when it comes to accessing what you need. It also includes all the extraneous material that gets included in the record but is never read on the floor.

Many committees provide streaming audio of their open proceedings even if they aren't covered by C-SPAN, but transcripts of committee meetings aren't usually made. Unfortunately, the second most "closed" part of Congress is the numerous committee meetings that are closed to the public. (The first most "closed" part is all the back room dealings that result in 11th hour and 59th minute changes to bills in conference, and I don't expect that to change with the Dems in power, either.)

But the winner in openness (modulo their impartiality) has to be the Supreme Court, who, though they don't televise their proceedings, now make transcripts of arguments available within a couple of hours of the event.

Re:Text Video (5, Informative)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375384)

The "record" is not worth much, rally. Most of them start their floor addresses with "I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend..."

This means, barring any objection (which would be rude), that the congressmember can go back after the fact and change the record of what they said and even add new material. You can actually find far more "said" in the record than could physically be spoken during the stated time period of the debate.

Re:Text Video (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378916)

I also read an article that mentioned that the Congresspeople add "tributes" to the Record. Entire sections honoring usually local hometown heroes with praise and thanks are added, when they didn't really say any of that at all. It sounded like it was quite common to add tributes to the record, which is fine I guess. It would be better if they actually said it. But it makes me really wonder what else they add or remove. It's much more than just correcting pronunciation errors and the like.

Everything? I think not. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376110)

I heard about this on NPR a couple of weeks ago. The new congress purports to be more open and honest, and c-span is calling them on it. Everybody knew they wouldn't expand coverage. If congress really wanted to open up, they'd put in a bunch of cameras, offer real-time feeds - including votes - to anyone citizen or registered US corporation who wants them, and archive the video footage in a way that could be easily retrieved by any citizen.

My question is: does the Congressional Record include all the conversations on the house floor and in the ante-chambers? That's where the real work gets done, and the real deals are made. What's in the congressional record is just the official words - primped and preened for public consumption.

I agree with another poster (who I was darned close to modding up instead of posting in this thread): If you have nothing to hide, you shoudn't fear offering up access to all of the goings on the congressional chambers.

Re:Everything? I think not. (1)

garbletext (669861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379118)

I heard about this on NPR a couple of weeks ago. The new congress purports to be more open and honest, and c-span is calling them on it. Everybody knew they wouldn't expand coverage. If congress really wanted to open up, they'd put in a bunch of cameras, offer real-time feeds - including votes - to anyone citizen or registered US corporation who wants them, and archive the video footage in a way that could be easily retrieved by any citizen.
You're absolutely wrong. C-SPAN is the bad guy here. If you had RTFA [ucsc.edu] you'd realize that CSPAN wants to use their own cameras to defeat the attempts of people like metavid to have access to and remix CSPAN's footage, which, besides their logo, is the work of US. Government employees in the course of their duties, and as such is public domain. This is the way it should be. Were CSPAN to use their own cameras, true, they could provide more angles, but they would OWN this very important public record. They have already demonstrated (see link) that they are extremely unwilling to allow anyone to use this footage in any way, even though at the moment, the only legal right they have to it is their additions, which amount to their logo and the name of the person speaking.

Re:Text Video (2, Insightful)

SirWinston (54399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376996)

> Everything that happens on the floor ends up in the Congressional
> Record anyway, which is publicly available within a couple days
> of it happening. It's text, which means it's searchable, which
> makes it a ton better than video when it comes to accessing what
> you need.

Garbage. It loses every nuance of the spoken word and human gestures which betray what a representative or witness really feels about a contentious issue. I vividly recall watching the Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, transfixed by the spectacle of it all, judging the true reactions of senators and witnesses on the committee floor by their body language and intonation. The written record of those proceedings is comparatively worthless. When contentious issues reach the main floor, the written record can be equally misleading about the real tenor of the debate. As Socrates would point out, the written word is dead and misleading compared to seeing a real person.

Interestingly, I went to the C-SPAN store recently hoping they'd offer the Thomas hearings on DVD so I could replace my ancient self-recorded EP VHS tapes. Nope. Perhaps the most important confirmation heaing in a generation, one which transfixed the general public so fully that several Saturday Night Live sketches parodied it, one which is *not at all* accurately reflected by the text record--and it's been gone from public view for well over a decade.

Re:Text Video (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377474)

Funny, I was able to find them (buried in a mess of useless program titles, like one called "Thomas Confirmation" which was a recording of a high school debate team's discussion of the confirmation).

Floor Debate: http://www.c-spanstore.org/shop/index.php?main_pag e=product_video_info&products_id=22040-1 [c-spanstore.org]
Confirmation Vote: http://www.c-spanstore.org/shop/index.php?main_pag e=product_video_info&products_id=22041-1 [c-spanstore.org]
Call-in interview segment with two senators (one for, one against) following the vote: http://www.c-spanstore.org/shop/index.php?main_pag e=product_video_info&products_id=22095-1 [c-spanstore.org]
Selected Clips: http://www.c-spanstore.org/shop/index.php?main_pag e=product_video_info&products_id=21107-2 [c-spanstore.org]

The floor debate and confirmation vote are the two that are actually the confirmation process in action, the others are programs by C-SPAN (or edited bits and pieces)

Re:Text Video (1)

SirWinston (54399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378328)

> Funny, I was able to find them

That's a very tiny excerpt of the relatovely less impassioned floor debate--the real meat of the controversy was in the very lengthy but incredibly contentious hearings, where witnesses including Thomas were vigorously cross-examined by key senators. For what is srguably the most important confirmation hearing C-SPAN ever covered, they ought to offer a DVD set containing full, unabridged confirmation hearing coverage. As far as I can tell, they offer little.

Re:Text Video (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377074)

I know you want to defend the decision of the Democrats (this is Slashdot, after all), but the record is often edited after the fact before it is given to the public. C-SPAN would have provided full, live coverage for the public to watch during proceedings.

Re:Text Video (1)

TheGreek (2403) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377822)

C-SPAN would have provided full, live coverage for the public to watch during proceedings.
C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 already provide full, live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of House and Senate floor action. The only "gotcha" is that the cameras are under the control of Congressional staff instead of C-SPAN.

Can you cite an instance when the House or Senate were actually conducting business on the floor and it wasn't broadcast live on C-SPAN?

Re:Text Video (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378868)

I know you want to defend the decision of the Democrats (this is Slashdot, after all)

Not really. In fact, I'm hoping that the Blue Dog democrats manage to convince the Republicans to vote for one of them for Speaker, and show Pelosi that the election was a referendum against political extremism.

Re:Text Video (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379588)

Actually, the election was a vote against political moderation. The repubs lost A LOT of votes because the whole govt. spending schtick and the fact that they did NOTHING worthwhile to back up their ideals.

Re:Text Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17377532)

There is far more in the congressional record than is ever said on the floor. There are speeches in the congressional record given by congress critters who weren't even in the building on the day the speech was "given". That's why the video record is so important.

For and on behalf of all Non-American (0, Troll)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375520)

WTF?

Get Over It (1)

Luscious868 (679143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375726)

This is an American site. There will be articles of interest only to Americans from time to time. Get over it.

Re:Get Over It (1)

jamiethehutt (572315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376630)

This is an American site. There will be articles of interest only to Americans from time to time. Get over it.

No thats not what the parent is talking about. He's "WTF"ing about how America can shout about being a great free democratic country and then not have means of freely distributing the back cataloge of recordings of their democratic process, thus hindering openness and accountability, which are quite important to democracy in most peoples eyes...

In the UK we can even sit in on parliment and listen in person.

Re:Get Over It (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377382)

"No thats not what the parent is talking about. He's "WTF"ing about how America can shout about being a great free democratic country and then not have means of freely distributing the back cataloge of recordings of their democratic process, thus hindering openness and accountability, which are quite important to democracy in most peoples eyes..."

You got all of that from "For and on behalf of Non-Americans: WTF?"

Reality TV: Roman Empire Style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17375656)

In an aim to build support a recent New York Times editorial called for reality TV for congress.

Screw so-called "reality TV."

I want "gladitorial combat" and "lion feedings" for congress critters.

Thanks for bringing this up (1)

Wiseleo (15092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17375998)

It never occurred to me to check C-span's content use policies, which are quite bad as you said.

Thanks for making that information a lot more public.

Nation's founding (1)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376048)

It is interesting to note that the founding fathers met in closed doors. It was forbidden to say what was going on until it was over. That way people weren't 'acting for the camera'.

Re:Nation's founding (1)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377398)

It is interesting to note that the founding fathers met in closed doors. It was forbidden to say what was going on until it was over. That way people weren't 'acting for the camera'.
Cite?

I'm not implying anything, I'm curious.

Re:Nation's founding (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379036)

that's a well established fact. check any (decent) US history book or biography (Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, etc).

Re:Nation's founding (1)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 6 years ago | (#17389650)

that's a well established fact. check any (decent) US history book or biography (Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, etc).
I'm not referring to the fact that they met closed-door, rather because you claimed, "That way people weren't 'acting for the camera'."

The Constitution was authored under the auspices of amending the Articles of Confederation. The fact that they were doing something above and beyond their stated mandate seems more than sufficient reason to keep the meetings secret.

I've seen no suggestion before that this was to avoid posturing on the part of the delegates. That's why I asked for a citation.

(I'm going to ignore the "acting for the camera" quote, since it wasn't clear where that quote was coming from. It would of course not have been used during the drafting of the Constitution, since "camera" wasn't really coined as an English word until the middle of the 19th century.)

Re:Nation's founding (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377738)

forbidden to say what was going on until it was over.


What was "it"? The drafting of the declaration? The constitutional convention? The early Senate and House?

Re:Nation's founding (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379018)

Well, they were planning a revolution, so if Britain had found out about it earlier, they might have lost horribly.

Re:Nation's founding (1)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17384088)

Sorry, I'm talking about the Constitutional Convention. This was after the war.

Re:Nation's founding (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 6 years ago | (#17388882)

"It is interesting to note that the founding fathers met in closed doors."

As delegates from their state governments, they were not directly responsible to the people to begin with. There would be no reason for the people to have direct access as it was the state legislatures (the ones who still have the right to alter the constitution without any involvement from the federal government) they were held accountable by.

And once the document was crafted, it was placed before the popularly-elected state legislatures for ratification, who were directly responsible to the people, and there was heated debate before the court of public opinion on the matter, which is why three of your "Founding Fathers" got together and "acted for the camera" by writing a long series of letters "to the People of the State of New York." [wikisource.org]

And even then, the document presented to the state legislatures was ratified only on the condition that a bill of rights would be proposed by the First Congress (with publicly accountable Representatives), proposed by James "We don't need no stinkin' personal rights" Madison himself, and then ratified, again, by the popularly elected (and publicly accountable) state legislatures.

In the contest between public accountability and the "Divine Right of the Founding Fathers," republicanism won. Get over it.

Video copyrighted? Hell, the LAWS are copyrighted (3, Insightful)

OpenGLFan (56206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376374)

Of course you're going to have problems with the video from the floor being copyrighted if laws themselves are copyrighted!
See this article [yale.edu] from LawMeme. A nonprofit website in Texas attempted to include area building codes that had been written by a company called SBCCI [ihs.com] . SBCCI sued, saying that their copyright had been violated by this publication of the laws, as they made $72 per copy sold by them. A judge ruled in their favor, allowing them to restrict the public laws, saying that $72 was "sufficiently free" for citizens' access.

(This isn't the only instance, but searching for "copyrighted law" returns more chaff than wheat, thanks to arguments over copyright law in general. Bonus points for more citations, as I'm interested in this.)

Re:Video copyrighted? Hell, the LAWS are copyright (1)

$1uck (710826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376828)

Yes this happens quite often in particular with building codes. I find it rediculous, but what I believe happens is that a company hires engineers to write a book of codes publishes it and then states/counties whatever governing bodies then vote to adopt the codes in the book. Which is good if you ask me, who do you want writing building codes? engineers or politicians? The problem then comes up that yes the codes are copyrighted.

How do you solve the issue? Laws should be a matter of public record and should be freely accessible. However the people creating the codes need to be compensated. I suppose the Government could have its own engineers write building codes, I'm not sure thats a good idea though.

Re:Video copyrighted? Hell, the LAWS are copyright (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377296)

How do you solve the issue? Laws should be a matter of public record and should be freely accessible. However the people creating the codes need to be compensated. I suppose the Government could have its own engineers write building codes, I'm not sure thats a good idea though.


It's the same as the company doing it, minus charging the public per copy, and minus profits for that company. Instead, more of the public pays a lesser amount (in the form of taxes).

Pro-privatization people would say the government is so inefficient that a company, even tacking on a profit, will do a better job for less money than the government could have. I think that's a junk argument, but there you have it. The government should have bough the rights to the book from the company, then made it available free electronically, and in printed format for a small fee.

Re:Video copyrighted? Hell, the LAWS are copyright (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378774)

Problem being that once you release the material nobody ever needs to pay again. Therefore, it is produced once, sold for a fraction of the cost because the creator knows they can sell it over and over again and released. Once released the original creator is now holding a non-asset - it is worthless.

Of course you could try to "license" it so it could be viewed by the public but not reused or redistributed. Sure. That is working really well with music and video today. So someone in a small town that would rather spend their money on the annual holiday festival just downloads a copy and says "Here it is. See what good work we did!"

Today, public access is pretty much equivalent to free redistribute and reuse. Once it gets out that is about the end of the value of the work.

Building Codes (1)

flieghund (31725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380238)

I am an architect who deals with building codes every day at work. As $1uck [slashdot.org] points out [slashdot.org] , it is far better for engineers (plus architects, fire marshals and other parties specifically interested in public safety/welfare) to write building codes than politicians, who are much more likely to be influenced by big donors and other "special interest" parties specifically interested in lining their own pockets.

Unfortunately, this means that you have a private third-party developer that is essentially writing your laws -- which is actually not much different from the way most laws are written by lobbyists anyway. But the difference here is that the group writing the building code "law" is made up of construction industry representatives and extensively peer reviewed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the general public. Each major building code organization used to develop different building codes (ICBO, BOCA, SBBCI, NFPA, etc.). Near the turn of the century, most of them (notably not NFPA) got together to form the ICC (International Code Council), and to develop and publish the so-called I-codes, of which the International Building Code forms the flagship product. The goal of the ICC was to develop a single, unified building code that would be adopted throughout the world -- a stark contrast to the balkanized state of building regulations that existed less than a decade ago.

These codes are marketed to various jurisdictions that range in size from cities and states up to entire countries. The way it generally works is that the building code group (ICC) lobbies the powers-that-be to adopt "by reference" their publication as the official building code for that jurisdiction. Many (but not all) jurisdictions follow up the adoption of the "standard" version with jurisdiction-specific amendments. California in particular modifies a significant portion of the underlying UBC (soon to be IBC) publication -- I'd estimate somewhere in the range of 80% of the language is expanded, deleted, revised or completely replaced.

In California, the Building Standards Commission [ca.gov] (CBSC) is given the authority to adopt and revise the varioius construction industry codes for the entire state. California law then requires each jurisdiction within the state (counties, cities, etc.) to adopt the California versions of the codes, but also allows them to make further restrictive amendments. (Los Angeles, for example, uses a much more restrictive version of the CBC.)

Okay, so what does this matter? The code organizations publish their codes and "give them away" to various jurisdictions with the understanding that their expenses will be recouped through protected retailing of their copyrighted products. However, in most jurisdictions -- I can't speak for the Texas case OpenGLFan [slashdot.org] noted [slashdot.org] , but this is the case in California -- copies of the building code are available to view for free at public depository libraries [ca.gov] . The "copy protection mechanism" employed is pretty low-tech: You can't check out the codes, so by the time you photocopied the entire code on the library's pay-to-use photocopiers you could have purchased several legitimate copies for the same price. (I suppose you might try taking digital photos or bringing a portable scanner with you, but the CBC is something like 900 pages long... I hope you have good batteries!)

It is interesting to note that 5 of the 11 parts of the California Building Standards Code are free to download from the CBSC's Title 24 [ca.gov] website. Granted, only errata and supplements are available for the other six parts -- including the most-frequently used California Building Code [ca.gov] . But two of the codes unique to California -- the California Engergy Code [ca.gov] and the State Historical Building Code [ca.gov] -- are completely free and available as unrestricted PDFs from the CBSC.

OK for the NSA, but not OK for C-SPAN (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376478)

As Mike Rivero [whatreallyhappened.com] observerd:
Surveillance cameras on every street corner, but no real coverage of the goings-on of our government at work, Madame Speaker?

What are you afraid Americans might learn about the proceedings that go on there? - M. R.

Congressional video is poorly managed (1)

BenFranske (646563) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376650)

I've actually called my congresspeople and asked about who is in charge of videorecording proceedings because it's not very clear. They had never had such an interesting question and it took several days to get a response (these are people who normally can send a canned response to any question in minutes). I still didn't get a very good answer from them, something about "House and Senate Media Services" but no answer about how it gets out of the building or if truly public domain (no C-SPAN logo) copies are available anywhere. As a citizen I personally feel the government should make an effort to make all of the internally produced (public domain) media it generates easily available. This means live video feeds of floor proceedings, conference proceedings (not currently public domain), press conferences (the White House and Pentagon too)should all be streamed on free-to-air satellites without any interference from C-SPAN or anyone else. In addition, all the photos from staff photographers (I'm talking specifically about congressional and internal White House photographers here, many other government agencies already do a great job of sharing photos) should be available in full resolution from a web gallery. I'm paying for all this media to be generated and I think it's important that it is generated and recorded but I want access to it as well.

It hardly matters (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17376948)

The real work of Congress isn't done on the Congressional floor. The real work is done in committees, and most of the committee meetings are closed, even the ones that are nominally open.

If they can't find a way to close them, they'll hold the meeting in their offices in private, come to a conclusion, and then open the meeting for a trivial few minutes to announce the results.

C-SPAN is for making speeches, not for legislating.

C-SPAN tried the same thing in 1994... (1)

remove office (871398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17377340)

C-SPAN asked for permission to rearrange the cameras and broadcast more material in 1994 when Republicans took over the House of Representatives (C-SPAN has been operating on the same initial rules set up in the late 70s when they were first allowed on Capitol Hill). The Republicans denied them just as the Democrats are doing now. C-SPAN uses US government equipment (like cameras) inside of Capitol Hill, and as such the House Speaker retains absolute control over it. It would make for better programming (to change the rules three camera angles, guys? 1 wide shot, one shot of the bench and one roving tight shot guys? come on...), but House Leadership wants it to remain static and "stately" for "decorum's sake."

Remember this little event ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17378010)

... and remember that it was both the Democrats and the Republicans that screwed us on it. Moral of the story: trust neither. Any bets on when the Democrats will backpedal on the banning of [anonymous] "earmarks"? "All signs point to: 'soon'."


They both suck.

sergeant at arms will turn off the camera's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17378378)

Why in the world does the senate have a military guy babysitting them.

Democratic *republic* (1)

chreekat (467943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378470)

I'm not sure how Slashdotters will feel about this opinion, but I'll try not to make an ass of myself and hope for the best.

I'd rather *not* have "Reality TV for Congress". I don't want to see every last second of their proceedings and discussions, and I don't think they should be subject to constant surveillance. There's two reasons for this: one, I know *I* would perform worse if my boss was video-recording my every move at work, and I wouldn't wish that upon anyone. A person needs the leeway to relax now and again to keep their sanity, especially with a stressful job. Two, we have a democratic *republic*. We elect officials who can do the time-consuming and difficult job of running the government for us, so we can worry about other things. And, perhaps more importantly, so that we don't have an *actual* democracy, which would devolve into chaos after we had our first 'government meeting' (imagine 300 million people in the same spot, trying to decide on anything).

I'm all for being vigilant and wary of the government. Pay attention to new legislation and rulings and praise the good and kick out the crap. But let's let them do their job with some degree of civility.

Re:Democratic *republic* (1)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380538)

imagine 300 million people in the same spot, trying to decide on anything
Why do people keep speaking of true Democracy like this? Is it just a coincidence that they all exaggerate as much as possible to make their point?

Imagine 300 million people with internet access (even if just through a computer at the local library), voting on whatever it is that interests them (which may be nothing). Imagine something closer to Wikipedia. It might not work well, but it's nothing like the completely retarded idea of forcing hundreds of millions of people to gather for a meeting.

Re:Democratic *republic* (1)

chreekat (467943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17380886)

It's not the problem of logistics, it's the impossibility of hundreds of millions of people, all with an opinion and something to say, trying to get anything accomplished at all. There *has* to be authority. I think Wikipedia is a good example for that argument -- the problems involving hot topics would never solve themselves. It wasn't democracy, it was anarchy.

Re:Democratic *republic* (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17382506)

I would want them to be subjected to constant surveillence. This is as Mark Twain and Will Rogers said, the most corrupt group of people in the country outside of a Federal penitentiary (and even that's close).

Futhermore, they should be required to do their own taxes AND be audited every year. These people are largely millionaires who have made a career out of selling us out to places like China or organizations like Big Oil. Given that much power and responsibility, I would demand that everything they do "on the record" be recorded and made public. I pay about a third of my salary to these people and the wasteful, destructive programs they create and there is very little real accountability, except for the ballot box, which doesn't really count for much.

Sure, there can be back room meetings that are off the record, but everything that happens on the floor of the House and Senate should be recorded and transcribed verbatim and made public, and could be done each day for less than the cost of a couple Pentagon toilet seats.

These people are destroying our country and compromising our future and you're afraid to put a little pressure on them? Personally, I think if there's not so much pressure that these guys are dropping dead of heart attacks or strokes every other day then they are being held to the awesome, mind-numbing responsibility that they have taken upon themselves. Running the U.S. should be the hardest job in the world, not some country club for plutocratic decadent scoff-laws.

for more info see: (1)

bigmammoth (526309) | more than 7 years ago | (#17378534)

A recent blog post on metavid explains the issue [ucsc.edu] in more detail. For example we already can't use the footage of Alito's Confirmation until 2101 assuming copyright is not extended again.

And the wikipedia article on C-SPAN IP enforcement [wikipedia.org] which documents some of C-SPAN's take down requests to people that have used legislative footage online.

So change the damn contract. (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#17379388)

Sure they get to film it, but it has to be constantly open to the public. On the one hand, C-Spans restrictions suck ass, on the other, the feed would actually show you everything going on, rather than concentrating only on the person speaking. For that matter, do both, and force C-Span to pay for the privilege, thereby funding the current program.

No evil Republicans here! (1)

professorfalcon (713985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17383424)

To be clear, it was Nancy Pelosi who rejected this. Not an evil Republican. Not Don Rumsfeld. Not Bush.

This is partially good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17383976)

C-SPAN is not the copyright-friendliest organization around. If you're a budget-conscious documentarian and you try to license some committee hearing footage that only C-SPAN has, get ready to pay out the wazoo and maybe be denied entirely at the whim of C-SPAN. With the House and Senate filming their own floor proceedings, you do have a chance to get footage from them at semi-reasonable rates. If C-SPAN were allowed to take over that too, then some numbskull representative would think it a brilliant budget-saving maneuver to just let C-SPAN handle all of it and to do away with the public's cameras. NO THANK YOU. Then all the footage would arguably be subject to C-SPAN's copyright and their PITA licensing procedures. (Can you tell experience is talking here?)

I agree with those who have said that what really needs to happen is that the house and senate need their own cameras covering not just the floor but every committee meeting and it all needs to be put on their (or the Library of Congress/National Archives) websites in a non-proprietary format for downloading for free. It's the public's business being filmed by public employees and needs to be made easily available to that public. One can only hope that we get some representatives that have used YouTube at least once and get a clue on this sort of thing.
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