Politicalvideo.org: Public Service Archive

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Politicalvideo.org is dedicated to archiving public domain video footage provided by government agencies for creators to use as they wish. Network and local news programs have long had access to such archives, and soon Camkid Q. Vlogger will be able to assemble her own broadcast news or documentary style reports just like the big boys.

The site was officially announced today at Pixelodeon by Jay Dedman. Designed by Cheryl Colan, it was conceived by Kent Bye as a resource for his documentary project The Echo Chamber, but certainly serves a broad public interest.

Any documents produced by local, state and federal government are by law in the public domain (after all, we Americans paid for them). And almost any other video clip used in a critical context falls under fair use. But video from sources like the White House site is in RealVideo format — making it a chore to save locally and even harder to work with in editing.

The amount of video available is also staggering, so Shawn Van Every and Eric Zimmerman helped out by automating the site scraping, downloading, transcoding and uploading process. The video on the site is now avaible in Quicktime format, making it easier for users to edit and republish.

Importantly, Politicalvideo.org is also archiving the related transcripts, making it much easier to scan and search for specific phrases. The team has archived over 500 hours of video total dating back to 2001, all of which should be uploaded and available by Wednesday.

Unfortunately, the archive isn’t completely contemporary — starting in January, the White House switched to Windows Media format, which doesn’t play nice with the automation scripts and transcoding tools.

The clips are available on Blip.tv, which is automatically cross-posting the material to the Internet Archive. Since the site is based on Drupal, it will be easy to expand the focus to other officials and agencies throughout government.

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George

“Any documents produced by local, state and federal government are by law in the public domain (after all, we Americans paid for them).”

I believe this is an oversimplification. Sincerely, George

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