The idea of open source (everyone can change and redistribute) can be applied to many things. One could imagine open source news. But would that make sense? After all, news gets old after a few hours, nobody is interested in it anymore. So there is in practice no time to make use of it being open source.

So are scenarios that would make it useful to open source news?

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    News would need to be accurate to be of any value so change would be tricky (think wikipedia's accuracy) Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 9:07
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    ask Wikinews :)
    – Philipp
    Commented Jul 19, 2015 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


Lawrence Lessig in his book Free Culture talks about the effect of all-rights-reserved copyright on news broadcasts:

We take it for granted that we can go back to see what we remember reading. Think about newspapers. If you wanted to study the reaction of your hometown newspaper to the race riots in Watts in 1965, or to Bull Connor’s water cannon in 1963, you could go to your public library and look at the newspapers. Those papers probably exist on microfiche. If you’re lucky, they exist in paper, too. Either way, you are free, using a library, to go back and remember—not just what it is convenient to remember, but remember something close to the truth.


Television, it turns out, is even more ephemeral than the Internet.While much of twentieth-century culture was constructed through television, only a tiny proportion of that culture is available for anyone to see today. Three hours of news are recorded each evening by Vanderbilt University—thanks to a specific exemption in the copyright law. That content is indexed, and is available to scholars for a very low fee. “But other than that, [television] is almost unavailable,” Kahle told me. “If you were Barbara Walters you could get access to [the archives], but if you are just a graduate student?”


The same is generally true about television. Television broadcasts were originally not copyrighted—there was no way to capture the broadcasts, so there was no fear of “theft.” But as technology enabled capturing, broadcasters relied increasingly upon the law. The law required they make a copy of each broadcast for the work to be “copyrighted.” But those copies were simply kept by the broadcasters. No library had any right to them; the government didn’t demand them. The content of this part of American culture is practically invisible to anyone who would look. (p109-111)

When you say "After all news get old after a few hours, nobody is interested in them anymore" that is a very short-sighted perspective. Often we don't know what will be significant in later decades and centuries. The first local campaign speech of a future Prime Minister or President may well have been broadcast, but if the rights holders restrict its archiving then in thirty years' time it may be impossible to find and view.

And that's for news items that eventually turn out to be significant. There are so many more broadcasts that will be important, not for the events they show, but as a window into life in a particular place at a particular time. In 100 years time how many of the interviews with regular American citizens talking about the Ferguson unrest will still be accessible?

We'll never be able to archive everything, but we have the technology to archive a lot. We don't know what our grandchildren will want to rewatch, so we should try to archive as much as we can. Commercial broadcasters may never allow that, but we should at least demand from our public broadcasters the freedom to archive their new broadcasts.

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    "but we should at least demand from our public broadcasters the freedom to archive their new broadcasts." - while they are indeed reluctant to allow external access, it seems public broadcasters in some places do that themselves. For instance, this 2014 article in German reports on some German public broadcasters agreeing on uniform fees for public access to their archives, with the implication that these contain documentaries and other historically relevant shows. Commented May 26, 2017 at 13:27

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