Thursday, October 23, 2008

Obstacles to Sharing in Public Media

There was a recent blog post from Steve Bowbrick at BBC Common Platform about the obstacles to "sharing content, technology and resources with the outside world" that is particularly practical here in the States. Steve's graphic of the obstacles he has cataloged:

Besides the very nice handwriting, he makes the point:

The number one obstacle, if the many conversations I’ve had here at the BBC over the last few weeks are anything to go by, is rights. Rights rights rights. Rights rights rights rights rights. The Gordian knot of multiple, overlapping rights regimes and multiple historic rights owners for every asset in the BBC’s catalogue.
Here is the start of my response:

The rights issue is a big obstacle and one that folks just hate to address because if involves the economic interests of folks we love to love, namely artists, documentary filmmakers, etc. and folks that we love to hate, such as Hollywood, commercial media, reality shows, etc.
It also involves lawyers, which can drive media folks batty…so there are lots of obstacles to just getting up enough energy to address the point.

However, there is also another issue that tends to get swept under the rug a bit: “To what purpose?” Sharing is great for self-expression as Lessig suggests, but the leap from “re-expressing” to original content is not too wide or insurmountable. If folks want to create, they can create without having to go to far afield in finding cleared or free content.

Here is what I would ask us to work on: let’s carefully define the purpose of sharing and follow that through the thicket of rights, especially with the BBC or US public broadcasting. If sharing leads to a substantial benefit for a definable public purpose (i.e. fighting poverty) then that should be the guiding point for both pursuing the collaboration, as well as modeling organizational behavior.

For full discussion on Steve's blog here and on, oddly enough, Flickr here.

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