Monthly Archives: October 2007

Congressional Media Access

In January of this year I wrote about congressional media access. Specifically the concerns I had related to C-SPAN’s attempt to gain independent camera access to the floor of the house and senate which could prohibit the redistribution of proceedings should copyright be enforced. At the same time the independent camera C-SPAN access to committee hearings was already preventing them from being redistributed freely. At that time I lamented that a situation such as this would occur when the Internet provides such a low cost way for the government to make itself more accessible to the people.

Since January a lot has been going on, primarily thanks to Carl Malamud and the great people at who are truly dedicated to bringing public domain government documents and media to the people via the Internet. Thanks to their efforts the Internet Archive has already started getting access to and posting committee hearings online, the archive page also has a good overview of the current state of things. The goal, and what I consider a great solution is that “By the end of the 110th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives could achieve the goal of providing broadcast-quality video of all hearings and the floor for download on the Internet.” Obviously this would be a huge step forward and I would hope the Senate would follow suit.

I really hope that all this comes to pass as it would be a giant leap forward in making government produced content freely accessible to the people. There are other targets (such as NASA TV archives, FCC proceedings, etc.) which could be similarly targeted. Ideally state legislature proceedings would be online as well. The government produces a huge amount of material which belongs to us, the taxpayers, and there are a lot of interesting things that go on in the government. I believe it is only fair that we have access to these proceedings, and other government documents, collections and media, at the highest quality possible so that we may reuse and distribute them.