Interview: Drew Clark of Center for Public Integrity

Drew Clark is the Project Manager of the Center for Public Integrity’s “Well Connected” project, which has a goal of providing the most comprehensive reporting on the business and legislative influences behind information networks. We discussed the future of broadband, copyright and 2008 campaigning and reporting at the Knight New Media Conference on Covering Politics and Cyberspace.

The Politics of Online Content

It’s often striking to note that the same rules and laws, from libel to copyright, apply online as they do in print. Until copyright laws are updated to reflect the Internet’s spirit of sharing, everything that is posted online is copyrighted by default. In backwards fashion, one must be *proactive* to indicate that sharing/lifting/reprinting of content, videos and photos is acceptable and *not* all rights are reserved.

The attitude of many publishers towards the Web, no thanks to Google/YouTube, is — “if it’s not fair use, what, are we gonna get sued?” And when a takedown notice comes through, the image, video, or other content is removed and usually the conflict is resolved. In other instances, however, a photographer is completely entitled to send a bill to a for-profit publication or organization that uses a photo or video without the creators permission. In the old days of print, I believe they called it “plagiarism.”

There are exceptions, of course. When user-generated content (UGC) is submitted through a module or service that requires agreeing to terms (i.e. checking a box without realizing what exactly you’re doing), the original producer of the content typically often signs off their rights completely on a non-exclusive basis.

In the case of Jamal Albarghouti’s infamous cellphone video of the Virginia Tech shootings, CNN contacted Albarghouti minutes after his submission was received to negotiate exclusive rights (for an undisclosed sum. Surely the creator was aware of the key terms and the key opening clause — submitting content meant no payment from CNN or its affiliates in exchange, automatically, for “a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to edit, telecast, rerun, reproduce, use, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute…” (emphasis mine). Yahoo!/Reuters YouWitness News has similar terms, as do other sites, although to see a YouTube “exclusive” on CNN would probably be a first. In other words, no other UGC provider likely had the breadth of worldwide video distribution outlets (and cash) as did CNN (a Time-Warner company).

I wonder if any outlet has ever “bluffed” a claim of exclusive rights to user-generated content and/or how competitors could confirm the nature of their exclusive arrangement, but then again, the distortion of the term “exclusive” (not to mention “breaking news”) throughout the media is for another blog post / conference.

How do you know what you can post and what *might* get you in trouble? I use a Creative commons license or badge to indicate content that I’m happy to share for non-commercial use with proper attribution. In other instances, I’ll gladly accept cash or PayPal. NowPublic, AP’s UGC partner, was friendly enough to send me a message via flickr asking permission to use CC-licensed photos of mine on a couple occasions. Is a CC license legit? Well, your work is copyrighted whether or not you ever file or register a copyright and — after only 5 years of operation, there are over 140 million pages with CC licenses. Where can you find CC-licensed content? They’ve got a search tool.

* C-SPAN’s CC-style license.
* BBC’s Creative Archive Licence Group.
* Poynter’s David Shedden’s guide to copyright & fair use.

Originally posted in the Digital Political Communication class blog on April 20, 2007

TribLocal, MySpace News, Yahoo Fully Swallows Upcoming

Is it any surprise that all of the primary links on MySpace News — digg style voting on stories by MySpace’s 160 million users — are to Murdoch-owned entities like the Times of London, FoxNews, and the New York Post?

Chicago Tribune goes hyperlocal with TribLocal — will be watching thic closely.

And After chewing for quite a while, Yahoo! finally wrapped upcoming.org users into their Yahoo! ID and migrates the event listings site to upcoming.yahoo.com

Engaging Visitors With ‘Serious Games’

cross-posted at the Knight New Media blog

Michael Skoler of America Public Media’s Center for Innovation in Journalism (and director of APM’s Public Insight Network) showed us how Minnesota Public Radio incorporates serious games to further engage listeners and site users.

Skoler exhibited 2006 Select a Candidate, Minnesota Fantasy Legislature (see “commissioner” Bob Collins’ league notes), and The Real Agenda.

So what are “serious games” and how can they function as tools of engagement for news/political Web sites?

Some think these “serious” or “ubiquitous” games will be fundamental to harnessing collective intelligence. A lofty goal, but one that could essentially lead to a more utopian, user-policed and controlled message boards and forums on a Web site or portal.

“The future of collective play: Fostering collaboration, network literacy and massively multiplayer problem-solving through alternate-reality games,” was the title of Institute for the Future researcher Jane McGonigal‘s keynote at a recent Serious Games Summit. McGoningal argues that collaborative, puzzle-like games will become integral to humans’ tendency to imagine and strive for a “best-case scenario future.” Further analysis of McGonigal’s keynote can be found here and here.

A great resource for game ideas, analysis and conception is at the Serious Games network on Ning. Ning, co-created by former Netscape co-founder Marc Andreesen, is a portal that enables any casual Web user to create their own social network (see my as-yet-undeveloped, Thelonious Monk-inspired rhythm-a-ning). See also, the CALT encyclopedia.

You may have heard of Cruel 2 B Kind, the latest ubiquitous gaming craze taking over the world. The name of the C2BK game is “benevolent assassination,” an extension of McGonigal’s theory that all Internet users share a desire for “a life more worth living” (read more on this here. Click here to watch the game in action or find out for yourself Saturday in Santa Monica.

Another example of serious games seriously at work was the USC Center on Public Diplomacy‘s Reinventing Public Diplomacy Through Games Competition. This contest attracted submissions from around the world dealing with topics ranging from interactive after-school programs to discussing international water issues to simulating the Israel-Palestine conflict. Even the awards ceremony was simulcast in Second Life. I encourage you to read more about the project and the winners here.