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Malamud and House Leadership Team Up to Make Congress's Videos Über-Public

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, January 6 2011

One of the first acts undertaken by newly-minted Speaker John Boehner and House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa on their first day as leaders of the 112th Congress? Making public a letter thanking Carl Malamud for his decades of service. The occasion: an agreement that provides for House leadership and Issa's committee to release to Malamud, a private citizen and fierce advocate for the public record, high-quality video of the past and future goings-on going on before the Oversight Committee, the House's watchdog.

Under the new agreement, Malamud is putting the hearing videos up for bulk download on his site, House.Resource.org, where they can be pulled down in raw form (for you technical folks, via three different protocols -- HTTP, FTP, and RSYNC). He's pushing them out to public spaces, like nearly ubiquitous YouTube platform and the Internet Archive. In short, Malamud's lodging the congressional video as firmly as possible in the public domain, and attempting to remove any logistic obstacle to people make the most possible use of the footage. As Issa goes, it's part of this "transparency through technology" mission, as he says in the video above, all in the hopes of shaping a system where "you can see -- hassle free -- what government actually does with your money." Malamud has been working for years on this and similar efforts, and sees it as the possible start of a cascade of license-free, high-quality video to pour from Capitol Hill. He has a track record of given government a taste of what freed information makes possible, and then encouraging them to do it on their own. (The history of the SEC's Edgar database is one such example.) The agreement between Malamud and Issa's office includes a provision where the latter agrees to push the powers that be in the House for a link from House.gov to House.Resource.org, for a year at least.

Malamud reports over on O'Reilly Radar that he should have all of the videos from the 111th Congress served up on the bulk site by the end of this money. The project, he writes, is scheduled to be full operational by the end of February.

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