Al Jazeera’s use of the Creative Commons-License

Posted: October 25, 2010 in Copyright, Journalism and war
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Reading about participatory media and remix culture for this week’s class, I was wondering if journalists and news organizations are making use of the Creative Commons license. As a highly competitive industry that is fighting to preserve its status as a gatekeeper and its flow of revenues, making stories and footage freely available might seem absurd?

But Al Jazeera’s repository of broadcast-quality video footage of the war on Gaza, released under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license, shows a different motivation behind the broadcasting of news which focuses not so much on generating revenues but on Al Jazeera’s mission ‘to get our news out’  as Mohamed Nanabhay, Al Jazeera executive told the New York Times. Al Jazeera Network is the first news network in the world to offer footage that is available for free to be downloaded, shared, remixed, subtitled and rebroadcasted for non-commercial and commercial use with acknowledgement to them.

In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had the distinct advantage that they were already there. But while Al Jazeera’s International channel can be viewed in every major European market, the network is largely unavailable in the US, where it is only carried by a few cable providers. The insightful article of the New York Times relates the near-total blackout in the US to the sharp criticism the channel received from the US government during the initial stages of the Iraq war for its coverage of the American invasion.

But whether the use of the Creative Commons license by Al Jazeera is purely motivated by political reasons or not, it signifies a huge success for this new flexible concept of copyright.


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