Congressional hearings now safe for the Web

Congressional hearings, formerly only webcast, can now be found on the Web, thanks to enterprising programmer.

Following a report in the New York Times (ZD Government post here) that video of US House and Senate hearings are actually the intellectual property of C-Span, which uses its own equipment to record the sessions (by agreement with the government), programmer Carl Malamud hacked up a way to capture webcasts of those sessions. It seems that the webcasts are owned by the Congress, but because they're streamed, they're not available to use in blogs (like Speaker Pelosi's) and they're not searchable.

Malamud posted to Boing Boing

The U.S. Congress provides webcasts for many of their hearings. In all cases, the hearings are streaming only, in many cases they are "live only" (no archive of the stream). In some cases, the committees even put a "copyright, all rights reserved" notice on the hearings!

This is really dumb. So, I've started ripping all congressional streams starting with the house and posting them in a nonproprietary format for download, tagging, review, and annotation at Google Video and another copy at the Internet Archive (just to prove this is a nondenominational issue :).

This is a Tom Sawyer hack, a la "painting this fence is *loads* of fun!" I intend to prove to the Congressional webmasters that it is so much fun doing their web sites for them that they'll want to do it themselves so that I go away. Until then, look for "Carl Malamud on behalf of the U.S. Congress" for official news.