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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  1. icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), 31 Jan 2011 @ 12:05pm

    Scarcity

    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 By the time you work out some financial compensation for the information, it will be obsolete and out of date, and thus no longer valuable.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)

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