People are slowly coming back into the room after the lunch break. The most popular workgroup, called Open Distribution Models for Broadcasting, caught the attention of about twenty people. A video call with Bregtje van der Haak live from Hong Kong is set up, as she is joining us in the discussion the first half hour or so.
Bregtje introduces the project she worked on with the VPRO. It included making three documentaries (about urbanization) and distributing them via the web. Users can download the content for whatever purpose they liked, but preferably for educational purpose (as is the nature of the content). The project was an experiment to see how people react to free content from a broadcasting company, and also to see if dvd sales would be affected by it. And in fact, sales were not affected. The reactions were very positive. The first documentary about Johannesburg was downloaded 45.000 times, the second 8.000, and the third one was more popular again, downloaded 43.000 times. All in all, the project was a great success. Bregtje feels like this content is for the people, for common use, and their mission is to get it out to them. There is only one downside to this way of distribution: you don’t know how people are using the content and where in the world your material ends up. The ‘nachleben’ of the material is not (yet) recorded, although it would be most interesting!
What is very important to Bregtje van der Haak is that people should embrace new ways of distributing and even living in this changing world. Teaching at the City University in Hong Kong, the difference between China/Asia and the Netherlands/Europe is striking. In China, people are adapting to the new technologies in their benefit, while in Holland people are afraid to use it, feeling threatened or nostalgic. Bregtje emphasizes that the world is changing and that we can’t turn our backs to it, for that will never change the fact that the world is, in fact, changing.
Also, Bregtje feels that the licensing problems are an issue, just like Bram Tullemans. For a program about Californian Dreaming under a Creative Commons license, the producers wanted to use the official song. However, the music company was not pleased. I paraphrase: “It’s kind of like being held hostage by the music industries… There should be a more rational deal available where everybody gains and music is widely available.”
Bregtje stays with us for another bit during the discussion, while Paul Keller and Peter Kaufman take over the session. Jamie King from VODO is called to the seat behind the webcam and he and Bregtje discuss licensing issues. Jamie says that one could never live up to every license agreement in the entire world. You have to own something to distribute it freely. If you don’t own it, you practically can’t spread it on the global web. Bregtje agrees. She says it’s unfair that we are allowed to quote words, but not video material. The whole purpose of culture is to be able to be moved by it and to use and spread it as you like, in order to bring it to the attention of others.
Paul Keller asks what Bregtje thinks is the best place to start this discussion of open (video) licensing. Bregtje says the time is now, as companies struggle with loss in budget. She says the Raad voor Cultuur, commissariaat voor de media (Media Authority) is a good place to start; as high as possible.
After a few more thoughts the video call was disconnected and the floor is given to Peter Kaufman, president and founder of Intelligent Television. He likes to encourage us to explore new possibilities at different levels. He shows us the closing credits of a short film: “Knowledge Is - a short film about opening up access to archives”,(skip to 10.06 min.) a JISC Film & Sound Think Tank production. What is special about the film is that it consists of material from different sources, under different licenses, which are shown at the end of the film. This way, in the future, people can disassemble the video and use the clips that have the proper license for their distribution purpose and method. Kaufman thinks that in the future, most users will be able to remix the content they encounter, and that it will become a common use of interaction. By labeling the content from now on, this manner of using material will be stimulated.
Then the discussion takes a different turn, addressing the question of who are going to set open video spreading into motion. From the audience comes the suggestion it should start with young filmmakers. Paul Keller explores the possibilities in having a dedicated master class. Peter Kaufman suggests the opening of a new studio working in a whole new way: open and available. This resulted in the idea of a collaboration between old type and new type studio’s, which will eventually merge and evolve into a desirable form. The discussion is closed with the remark that not every bit of material is suitable for open licensing. Think of documentaries featuring witnesses or other privacy concerns. Also, the Olympic Games sports material isn’t likely to every be released under a Creative Commons license, according to Paul Keller. There are just too many rules and limits and licenses and rights to be taken into account.
The discussion is closed and idea’s are exchanged during another break, after which the final closing discussion will take place. Satisfied and full of fresh information, the participants of the working group leave the room for some coffee where they joyfully reunite with the other conference participants.