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If You Sat Down and Watched Everything in C-Span's New Online Library, It Would Take You 18 Years

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, March 16 2010

As the New York Times' Brian Stelter reports, C-Span is declaring victory over the creation of a comprehensive online library of government-related video going back, in full, to the Reagan years, and with caches of content from even earlier. C-Span reports that they've digitized and uploaded nearly half a million videos since 1987, comprising about 160,000 hours of video footage. Fire up the archive when your kid is a baby, sit down and watch non-stop, and you'll be done when she's ready to leave for college. It's all online now at

Good news for bloggers: a great deal of the C-SPAN clips are embeddable. As for copyright, a perennial question when it comes to what C-SPAN provides, it appears to remain the same for this resource. In other words, whatever happens on the floor of the House and Senate is public domain. Whatever happens at non-floor government events, including congressional hearings and White House events, they're claiming copyright over -- and they're generally cool with that copyright protection being honored by leaving the C-Span logo on the footage. They claim full copyright over documentaries and other original productions.

There's enough in there to keep a history teacher (or history geek) busy for quite a while. I'd never seen Al Gore's concession speech to George Bush from 2000, for example, but that's in there. There's quirkier fare too; C-Span has visited the gravesite of every deceased American president, and that's in there too. Dive in.