I signed on to a letter with a bunch of other activists and bloggers recently that asked that footage from upcoming presidential debates be shared with the public. So that people can view them, blog them, share clips with friends, etc. I was one of several black bloggers and leaders to join a diverse group of people who pushed on the DNC. Take a look at the original letters here.

To his credit, Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate to support our call. He wrote to Howard Dean on May 3:

Dear Chairman Dean:
I am writing in strong support of a letter from a bipartisan coalition of academics, bloggers and Internet activists recently addressed to you and the Democratic National Committee. The letter asks that the video from any Democratic Presidential debate be available freely after the debate, by either placing the video in the public domain, or licensing it under a Creative Commons (Attribution) license.

As you know, the Internet has enabled an extraordinary range of citizens to participate in the political dialogue around this election. Much of that participation will take the form of citizen generated content. We, as a Party, should do everything that we can to encourage this participation. Not only will it keep us focused on the issues that matter most to America, it will also encourage participation by a wide range of our youth who have traditionally simply tuned out from politics.

John Edwards, who is usually on the cutting edge, followed with this letter:

Dear Messrs Walton, Moonves and Zucker, Mses. Sweeney and Kerger, and Dr. Dean:

Selecting a president is the most important responsibility Americans have. In an age of 30-second ads, 7-second sound bites and media consolidation, making an informed decision is harder than ever.

That is why I am asking each news network to make video footage from the presidential debates that they broadcast available on the internet for the public to view and use responsibly. I am also asking Chairman Dean, who is playing a valuable role in organizing many of the Democratic primary debates, to use his influence with the networks to make the debates more broadly available.

Chris Dodd also weighed in (but where was Sen. Clinton?) Looks like we’ve had some influence. Thanks to all those who signed the letter, but the thanks really goes to you, the readers of this and other blogs like The Super Spade which has posted on this. The powers that be are worried about what YOU think about this — and what you’ll tell your friends or family. So thanks for helping preserve freedom of speech. Especially thanks to Lawrence Lessig for leading the charge.

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