The first Open Video Conference was held at NYU Law School on June 19-20. Eminent speakers and practitioners shared their thoughts on the emerging open video movement. The impressive line-up included: Matt Mason (author of The Pirate’s Dilemma), Yochai Benkler and Jonathan Zittrain (both Harvard Law School), Xeni Jardin (Boing Boing), Peter Kaufman (Intelligent Television), Mike Hudack (blip.tv) and Christopher Blizzard (Mozilla Corporation). The conference was put on by Kaltura, Yale Internet Society Project, Participatory Culture Foundation, iCommons and the Open Video Alliance, in partnership with Mozilla, Red Hat, Creative Commons, Level 3, Akamai and many more. Open Images was also actively involved, as Sound and Vision and Kennisland hosted a session “Audiovisual Archives” that investigated how memory institutions could provide access their holdings in a way that enables creative reuse.
Open Video is a broad-based movement of video creators, content distributors, technologists, academics, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, activists, remixers, and many others. From the conference announcement:
When most folks think of “open,” they think of open source and open codecs. They’re right—but there’s more to Open Video than open codecs. Open Video is the growing movement for transparency, interoperability, and further decentralization in online video. These qualities provide more fertile ground for independent producers, bottom-up innovation, and greater protection for free speech online.
Yochai Benkler, Professor of Harvard Law School and Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, delivered the opening keynote. He mentioned how “the smartest, most creative people never work for the same companies; open innovation platforms allow innovation to speed up.” His talk evidenced how distributed action and innovation is key to both business innovation (and technologic and/or legal restrictions aren’t) as well as a more participatory and democratic public sphere. It provided a good backdrop for discussions in the sessions that followed.
Some conference highlights
 Later this year Wikipedia will release new functionality that allows the easy inclusion of video in Wikipedia later this year. The Mediawiki software will feature a new button labelled Add Media. Users can search through open repositories (initially Internet Archive, Wikimedia Commons and Metavid) containing and drag chosen portions into Wikipedia articles. Further down the road, Wikipedia will include more repositories, and also provide tools to edit the clips within the Wikipedia website, comparable with the way it is currently done with text. Considering the influential position of Wikipedia (the only non-profit website in the top-10 of most-visited sites), it is safe to predict this will mean a great push in strengthening the role of video within the collaborative production and sharing of knowledge online. This is one important platform where an open video infrastructure and an active user base will come together.
 Chris Blizzard from Mozilla was applauded as he showcased some innovative features on Firefox 3.5. The release of Firefox 3.5 will come with HTML 5 support, which allows video to be embedded into the Web page without needing to install plug-ins. When asked what type of content Open Video will enable, Blizzard answered, “The killer app for Open Video will come once the environment is created. Mozilla won’t create it.” 300 million people are using Firefox, so this is indeed a big step forward towards open video. Although this is indeed an important breakthrough, the open video ecosystem is not quite there yet. On the second day of the conference the HTML5 and <video> Working Group described some of the current issues with the actual implementation and adoption of the HTML5 specification. Because there is no universal approach yet – Chrome, Firefox and Safari all differ in their approach and Internet Explorer seems reluctant to even adopt HTML5 any time soon – this severely hinders HTML5 <video> being an actual standard for video on the web.
 Developers from the P2P Next consortium showcased the Swarmplayer, which is capable of streaming live video in true 4th generation P2P style using a zero-server approach. This could be a real breakthrough in the way broadcasting is delivered. With Swarmplayer technology viewers help serving videos in a peer-to-peer fashion, hence reducing or even removing the need for a central server solution.
 In a fascinating talk, Matt Mason, author of The Pirate’s Dilemma described how industries could innovate when they not only compete with pirates, but also think about novel ways to work with them. He made a convincing argument by putting the concept of ‘piracy’ in a historical context uncovering the importance of piracy for the establishment of many powerful industries (Hollywood) and even countries (USA). He concluded with the advice that “one of the best ways to grow your business is to give pirates the space to do things you can’t do or don’t think of.” His book (including many examples) can be downloaded from: http://thepiratesdilemma.com/
 During his talk How to Make a Political Remix Video Jonathan McIntosh premiered his short film Buffy vs. Edward (Twilight Remixed). Apart from being an enjoyable, his video is primarily a statement about what constitutes ‘fair-use’ of copyrighted works. This important wake-up-call for filmmakers shows that open video doesn’t necessarily conflict with “all rights reserved”, but that it is also a matter of actively claiming the freedoms that the law already grants citizens (of the United States). Since its premiere the movie has gone ‘viral’ and claims over a million views.
Session on “Audiovisual Archives”
The break out session focused on a couple of key questions that we found influence how successful the networked archive will be in establishing themselves as a key node in media consumption; and how memory institutions will continue to serve as care keepers and storytellers of our mediated past.
Audiovisual archives across the globe are engaged in large-scale migration programmes. An important driver behind the investments related to these programmes is the physical state of the analogue carriers; the films, the tapes, the optical discs and so on. Migration is a way to preserve the information on these physical carriers and securing access for future generations, a key mission of these institutions. However, migration also opens the door to the establishment of the networked archive; where material can be made available online to an infinitely large audience. Different services can be built with this ever-growing resource, such as specialized services for education, video on demand, and access through portals such as YouTube and Blip.tv. Also, as viewing has shifted away from television and onto the Internet, the public interest in access to archive resources online has exploded. Some collection owners go a step further and allow their material to be downloaded so everyone can truly engage with the material and use it as building blocks for new productions. Back in 2003, the BBC coined the term “the creative archive” and entities across the globe are bringing this concept to life. Archive.org is another one of the leading examples.
The session addressed two topics in particular:
 The first is related to access and licenses. In the case of Archive.org, many videos are in the public domain. But in many cases, holdings are still copyrighted and their exploitations rights belong to their respective owners (archives rarely own the material they hold). Creative Commons is a suitable model to distribute in-copyright heritage content and allowing certain freedoms (“some rights reserved”). But what are the incentives for memory institutions and public broadcasters to adopt open licenses? And how can archives support such a transition? Is there a moral obligation for memory institutions and public broadcasters to provide open access?
 The second is related to business models. In providing different access routes, we might ask how free access and traditional revenue streams (i.e. footage sales) can coincide in a new economic eco-system for broadcasters? Can access fund preservation? Should it? When do producers have an interest in ensuring long term access to the materials they create? (e.g. PBS in the US has an educational mission, the more people see it, the better PBS is doing its job)
Cases and discussion
Moeed Ahmad from Al Jazeera, the first independent Arabic news channel in the world talked about the Al Jazeera’s Creative Commons Repository launched earlier this year. This repository provides access to broadcast quality Gaza conflicts, released under the ‘Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution’ license that allows for commercial and non-commercial use. This means that news outlets, filmmakers and bloggers will be able to easily share, remix, subtitle or reuse our footage. The only obligation that comes with this ‘free’ reuse of the material is that Al Jazeera gets attributed. This has been an enormous success for Al Jazeera in terms of reputation, getting more exposure for their material and even attracting commercial leads.
Maarten Brinkerink (Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision) talked about the Open Images project that will make a corpus of Dutch audiovisual heritage available under a Creative Commons license. Open Images (www.openimages.eu, to launch in September) is an open media platform to stimulate (creative) reuse of archive material by adopting an open infrastructure and Creative Commons licensing. Open Images combines open technology with a curated selection of freely licensed audiovisual heritage and – hopefully – community engagement, to fully explore the possibilities of open video.
Nan Rubin project director of the Preserving Digital Public Television project at CHANNEL 13 was the third speaker. One of the aims of this project is to secure investments in digital preservation in order exploit public broadcasting well into the future. She also talked about the American Archive project and how US-based broadcasters are trying to offer access to their holdings online.
Sara Chapman is Executive Director of the Media Burn Independent Video Archive, an online repository for four decades of nonfiction video work by independent producers. She focussed on the ways in which her organization has broadened their strategies for making online video accessible to a wide audience. Media Burn uses other platforms (including YouTube and many others) to promote their institutional website.
As mentioned in the introduction, the Open Video Conference covered a wide number of topics, from the nitty-gritty world of metadata interoperability, democratization and journalism, interests of commercial players, to novel ways of production and the role the ‘pirates’ are playing. Although many industrial players where present in the programme, some notable absentees included Microsoft and agencies such as MPAA. If open video is to driven by a movement (cf. Benkler speech), than this movement will operated from the ‘bottom up’; showing the advantage of for instance HTML5, open video codecs, Creative Commons, fair use and so on to a wide audience on the web. Wide, omnipresent adaptation of these essential building blocks by practitioners (consumers, web developers) will eventually force large industrial entities that are still clinging on to closed and proprietary systems to change their current practices and eventually embrace the concept of open video. This might sound overly positive but the main message the Open Video Conference send out to the word is the fact that open video is maturing in a stunning pace. In a short time a great variety of initiatives across the globe have been working to offer alternatives for the closed practices. The chain from production to distribution no longer depends on proprietary software, more and more content is being offered under open licenses. It is the combination of ‘brands’ like Creative Commons, Firefox, Linux, EFF, Wikipedia, OGG, VLC, P2P and so on that manages to offer an alternative ecosystem in which innovation and creativity (but also business opportunities) will be able to flourish.
For further reading the conference website provides a good overview of press coverage of the event.
Johan Oomen and Maarten Brinkerink