How About FreeDebate08?

Behind the scenes, I’ve had some involvement with the issue of public rights to recordings of presidential and other election debates. The subject has been well covered by Lawrence Lessig, Jeff Jarvis and others. Larry has posted open letters to the heads of the RNC and DNC requesting they “ensure that all video footage from [the] debates is able to be shared, re-used, and freely blogged about without the uploader of the video being deemed a lawbreaker.”

In the spirit of Dave Winer’s unconference concept, why don’t we (the blog/podosphere) produce our own debates and publish them in the public domain?

Here are my ideas for FreeDebate08.org:

  • It’s a time-shifted “event” that continues between now and November 2008. (ie, This is not a live event.)
  • We organize a multi-partisan group to referee the questions. (This is the hard part, but not impossible. It would be an open process.)
  • We publish the questions one-by-one (perhaps monthly).
  • Each candidate is requested to submit a video of up to five minutes responding to the question. The video must be placed in the public domain.
  • We (perhaps The Conversations Network, perhaps someone else) publish all of the videos received, encouraging re-use, mashups, whatever.
  • Candidates would not have advance access to the videos submitted by others. They would all arrive and be published on the same day.
  • One week later, each candidate would be asked to submit a video rebuttal, again five minutes or less, which we would also publish.

There are no technical or financial barriers to a project such as this. The only challenge is the get the support of the blog/podosphere, which in turn will make it more likely that the candidates will participate.

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