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C-SPAN Loosens Copyright for Some Content Online

C-SPAN is loosening its copyright policy on some material for online use, saying it wants to expand citizens' access to online video of congressional hearings, White House activities, and other government-sponsored events.

C-SPAN said Wednesday it would allow "non-commercial copying, sharing and posting of C-SPAN video on the Internet, with attribution," of its past and future coverage of  "official events sponsored by Congress and any federal agency," applying what it calls an approach similar to the “Creative Commons” approach to copyright.

Previously, the policy had been no imbedding, downloading or other unauthorized use of copyrighted video produced with C-SPAN cameras. House and Senate floor hearings, whose coverage is under government control, have already been available under the more liberal policy, but C-SPAN wanted to also make more of its content available to social-networking sites like YouTube, as well as bloggers.

There is no limit to the amount of material that can be used, though it must be for generally noncommercial purposes. YouTube has ads, for example, but the footage can be posted on the site with credit. "As long as there is not a direct connection between revenue on the site and the C-SPAN content," says Rob Kennedy, C-SPAN president/co-COO.

The liberalized policy extends to "all congressional hearings and press briefings, federal agency hearings, and presidential events at the White House."

C-SPAN's policy will not change for studio productions, non-federal events, campaign coverage, political events, and anchor programming like Book TV or original series.

C-SPAN will also build out its Website C-SPAN is looking to become an aggregator for the increased streaming of congressional hearings, rather than making interested Web surfers have to search them out at the individual committee and subcommittee Websites.