Al Jazeera Offers Up Egypt Coverage To Anyone Who Wants To Use It Under Creative Commons License

from the but-what-incentives-do-they-have-to-create-content? dept

If you’ve been following the goings on in Egypt over the past week, it’s likely that you at least saw some of Al Jazeera’s rather comprehensive coverage. The Egyptian government was so annoyed by the coverage that it “shut down” Al Jazeera’s Egyptian offices (and Egyptian politicians are calling for trying Al Jazeera correspondents as “traitors”). Of course, it’s worth pointing out that most of us in the US have no options for watching Al Jazeera via a regular TV channel either, since almost no US TV companies are willing to carry the channel.

However, Al Jazeera has embarked on a fascinating way to deal with all of this: it’s released a lot of its reporting under a Creative Commons license. In fact, the media operation has set up a CC specific site, that archives and aggregates all of the Al Jazeera content that is free for anyone to use, with just an attribution. Thankfully, it’s not even using a “non-commercial” license. Instead, the license just requires attribution for anyone to use the content in question.

This is pretty interesting for a variety of reasons. If you listen to the classic arguments concerning scarcity, some would probably argue that Al Jazeera should be keeping a tight leash on all this great content. It’s in high demand right now, and given its extensive coverage and knowledgeable reporters on the ground, some might argue that now is the perfect time for Al Jazeera to be as restrictive as possible with its content. But the media operation seems to be thinking much longer term, recognizing that its coverage is being relied on by more and more people around the globe (with a huge influx of interest from the US). This is actually a chance for the company to grow its brand quite a bit, and maybe even push past some of the stereotypes and attacks from the US and a few other western countries. And the way to do that is to get more people seeing its content and recognizing that the content is worthwhile. Given all that, going Creative Commons (or something like it) makes perfect sense.

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Companies: al jazeera

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Comments on “Al Jazeera Offers Up Egypt Coverage To Anyone Who Wants To Use It Under Creative Commons License”

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pixelpusher220 (profile) says:


The ‘scarcity’ in this case is of a very limited time frame. By the time you work out some financial compensation for the information, it will be obsolete and out of date, and thus no longer valuable.

Getting it out there (with attribution) burnishes the real ‘scarcity’ – the publishers reputation. (and I don’t mean that Al Jazeera doesn’t have a good reputation – I mean that reputation is something you can’t buy, it’s earned and thus a scarce good)

Anonymous Coward says:

If you listen to the classic arguments concerning scarcity, some would probably argue that Al Jazeera should be keeping a tight leash on all this great content.

Wow, hello strawman! Seen the scarecrow around?

What a bunch of crap. Leash? You are the master of smarmy wording, that is for sure!

Al Jezeera has little real distribution outside of the middle east. They are available in Canada and the US in english, but are often blacked out or unavailable. The Egyptian sat network dropped them losing them coverage over a wide area. Without giving their content (with logos and attribution) to other outlets, they would be entirely absent from the discussion.

They content isn’t valuable if nobody sees it. If they had their normal full distribution, they wouldn’t have to do it, and likely would not do it.

They are trying to avoid having their market share erode in these places by continuing to have a public presence even as they are blocked or unavailable in the areas. It is a very good business move, but certainly not something they will do as a day to day part of their business.

TeleTips Network (profile) says:

Al Jazeera "gets it"?

After reading so many stories of companies and individuals that get the Internet wrong as a distribution mechanism, it just feels great to read this. Certainly it’s too soon to know if publishing via a Creative Commons license is the “right” approach. But the willingness to try seems both clued-in and refreshing. I hope it works. But even if it fails we would all learn more from it than we would from any type of the traditional reaction, litigation, regardless of the outcome.

Al Jazeera is to be applauded and wished well for their creativity and willingness to experiment.

ThatDeborahGirl (user link) says:

American Media Is Pathetic

Have we been watching namby-pamby, mealy mouthed, ‘can’t say anything unless it corporate approved’ American media so long that we have no idea what real news is anymore?

CNN, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and especially “can’t tell the truth if they tried” FOX are barely news stations. They are a horrible example of what news should be with morning shows that are pathetic and evening broadcasts that can barely fill 30 lousy minutes with tripe.

American media is barely short of propaganda and then we want to demonize Al-Jazeera. Puh-leeze.

Anonymous Coward says:


I would say that you being a troll. Go away troll.

I understand context.
I know what Al Jazeera is.
I think the blog writer it attempting to take something and play it out in a context that is better for their personal agenda, ignoring context and situation.

If that is the best you have to offer, you better get back to school.

Anonymous Coward says:


ooo I am make wild accusations too!

1) If you do you clearly aren’t exhibiting any ability too.
2) Same as above.
3) And what else is new? If you don’t like the opinion piece why bother reading it? I don’t go to Roger Eberts blog and complain how his opinions suck or how he’s pushing his own agenda.

Now I’ll go back to doing my high school algebra! weee!

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:


They content isn’t valuable if nobody sees it.

First, let me congratulate you on taking your first step towards understanding anything discussed on the site.

Second, the next time you hear “Sure, giving away content for free is profitable for established artists, but what about the small, unknown artists?”, I hope one of the voices in your head will speak up and read the above quote of yours back to you.

Anonymous Coward says:

100 (or even fewer) years from now people will look back at history and the only content available for people to reference will be content like this. This will invariably give people a bias towards believing in a past with an Al Jazeerian spin. If other media stations want people of the future to view their side of the story they should follow suit and release their content under a CC license.

Really, copy protection laws shouldn’t last so long so that it can prevent people from selectively releasing content and removing that which they think makes them look bad in the future.

Anonymous Coward says:


“If they had their normal full distribution, they wouldn’t have to do it, and likely would not do it.”

Yet they are perfectly able to provide content under a license designed to circumvent copy protection laws, which just provides evidence that these copy protection laws are not needed.

“They are available in Canada and the US in english, but are often blacked out or unavailable.”

So you’re saying that the monopoly power that the U.S. government grants to U.S. cableco stations is bad because it enables them to wrongfully (and it is wrongful) block those with dissenting opinions, instead of allowing the free market to choose the merits of the content.

This is another problem with copy protections laws. It’s wrong for the government to grant both a monopoly on information distribution channels and the information distributed on those channels. The result is that people are forced to consume most content at monopoly prices (outside the Internet that is) despite the fact that there is no real good reason for it besides to make special interest groups rich with little effort.

Anonymous Coward says:


Not to mention, most news stations and newspapers don’t sell much news content that’s over a year old (if that) so it’s not like copy protection laws lasting that long does anything to help them profit. Since it’s not helping them make much extra income they can do fine without these laws lasting so long and that’s strong evidence that copy protection laws lasting over a year is completely unnecessary (at least with things like newspapers and news stations).

Anonymous Coward says:

“Al Jazeera has more journalists on the ground, in-country, than any American news organization.”

So, American news organizations are the ones with the copy protection on their content and yet Al Jazeera are the ones doing all the investigative journalists (some of it is probably being copied by others with copy protection laws even). But I thought without copy protection no investigative journalism would ever get done?

Anonymously Lazy says:


If you wouldn’t mind answering a few questions:
Who are you addressing? Techdirt?
Is your comment in regards to the article?
What is being agreed upon?
Who are the ‘radical muslim factions’ ‘communists’ and ‘dictators’ with which ‘they’ are agreeing with?

I look forward to your response, as I am unable to figure out what you could possibly mean.

Anonymous Coward says:


and to continue that point, here is a comment someone made on a forum.

“There were many options for the US networks to get personalized coverage without sending Katie Couric and Anderson Cooper. The main problem is that our networks jumped on the bandwagon too late. They didn’t treat the protests as breaking news, so they were late getting their own crews into the country. And by last Friday they were realizing how far behind they were because Al Jazeera English–online–was captivating a good number of Americans. The BBC (surprise surprise) also already had reporters in Cairo covering the protests live from Tahrir Square. In fact, it was the BBC that first reported, live, that fighter jets were flying overhead, which was the first show of threatening force. “

(posted by stellaluna, I hope s/he doesn’t mind me re – posting).

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