Friday, June 24, 2005

Current TV Announces New Submission Terms

From The Revolution Will Be Televised, my other blog:


Current TV
Originally uploaded by blackcatmedia.
Current TV, a new cable television station started by Joel Hyatt and Al Gore will soon be announcing the winner of their latest video contest, about the same time and probably with far less fanfare, Current will also release a new licensing agreement to govern all future Viewer Created Content.

Under Current TV's present terms, if you submit a video, you give Current the right to use your piece as they deem fit.
I irrevocably grant Current the non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty-free, fully paid license and right to use and otherwise exploit the Submission, and the title thereof, in whole or in part, in any manner or medium now or hereafter known or devised (including, without limitation, film, television, videocassettes, interactive devices, Internet and on-line systems), throughout the world and in any and all languages, including, without limitation, the right to copy, edit, change, modify, add to, subtract from, re-title and adapt the same and to combine it with other material.

However, these are non-exclusive rights and you're free to try to get the video out through any other avenues that might be available to you. You do, however, still grant Current the "Rights of First Negotiation and Last Refusal" -- basically Current TV has first dibs should you try to go about selling the piece. Additionally, "the most consideration that Current will be required to provide [you] to acquire all available Retained Rights is... the Writer’s Guild of America minimum scale payment for five minute single news program script (currently $1,237)."

Under these old terms, you could still take your video (that you submitted to Current) and put it on your vlog, or submit your piece in an unrelated online film festival.

Well, that's all in the past now. Under the new new licensing agreement, by uploading a video to Current TV, you can't do anything with it for six months three months. Even if Current TV doesn't want to put your piece on television, you are contractually forbidden from putting the video on your videoblog, and from trying to get it out through almost any other avenue besides Current. In the event that Current TV decides they want to air your video, it is my understanding that they would obtain all rights to the piece in perpetuity; you would be compensated for your work according to Current's new incremental pay-scale.

Current TV Pay Scale

With this latest announcement, Current TV, a television station that promises to "democratize television," seems to be falling short of it's stated goal. While everyone that I've talked to at Current seems to really get the personal media revolution, this development runs against everything the network should be doing. If the network is really about helping young voices to be heard, then Current should be embracing the growing movement of videobloggers and encourage participants to put their submission videos up on their videoblogs. The videobloggers would, in turn, put a link to Current TV on their blog entry and this would help drive more content to Current's site.

JD Lasica, the author of Darknet, and the co-founder of ourmedia feels that Current's decision to pursue the new licensing terms "will seriously undercut the quality of the material that people make available to Current." He describes Current's new terms as "a holdover mindset from big media, where six-month exclusivity contracts are common. No doubt some percentage of users will consent to the restrictions, while others will say, No way."

While trying to figure out what prompted Current to pursue these new terms, I came across this interesting article about Current TV's Head-Of-Programming David Neuman regarding his days at the Digital Entertainment Network.
I pointed out that this much original content would be very expensive, and suggested that one thing kids (and other Internet users) sometimes like is to be given recommendations about other useful and interesting Web sites. Neuman cut me off with a laugh and condescending sweep of his little hand.

"I don't think we need to be sending people away from our site! I don't think that's how we make money!" ("No! Definitely not!" said the chorus, laughing with him at my stupidity.) "Look, as soon as we're as big as Macy's, then we'll tell people how to get to Gimble's! I'm concentrating on getting as big as Macy's!"

Just as this is simply not how the web works, the industry approved 6 month exclusivity option is not how new media will prove to work either. While I still have very high hopes for Current, it's dawned on me that some people at Current TV only wants to democratize televison as long as they can have a monopoly on democracy...

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Note: I am the volunteer organizer for The San Francisco Current TV Meetup Group and obtained this information through a conference call with Current TV and the other meetup organizers. I was never instructed not to share any of the information that's contained in this blog entry and thus feel that it's acceptable for me to share and comment upon this information in my blog.

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