02:32 PM

2.27.07 Hack saves House webcasts to the Web

After reading that C-Span owns the copyright to the House and Senate hearings it tapes, Carl Malamud whipped up a little hack. It seems that the floor debates that Congress records with its equipment is public property and the hearings C-Span tapes are its property. But what about the hearing that Congress webcasts? They're clearly public since they are recorded and transmitted by public equipment, but since they are just webcasts they're unusable for research or just time-shifting.

Enter Carl, as he explains on Boing Boing:

The U.S. Congress provides webcasts for many of their hearings. In all cases, the hearings are streaming only, in many cases they are "live only" (no archive of the stream). In some cases, the committees even put a "copyright, all rights reserved" notice on the hearings!

This is really dumb. So, I've started ripping all congressional streams starting with the house and posting them in a nonproprietary format for download, tagging, review, and annotation at Google Video and another copy at the Internet Archive (just to prove this is a nondenominational issue :).

This is a Tom Sawyer hack, a la "painting this fence is *loads* of fun!" I intend to prove to the Congressional webmasters that it is so much fun doing their web sites for them that they'll want to do it themselves so that I go away. Until then, look for "Carl Malamud on behalf of the U.S. Congress" for official news.