“Yesterday, December 7th…”

“…1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

A lot has changed in the last 67 years, politically, economically and personally, it was the year my father was born. But listening to President Roosevelt’s live speech the morning after Pearl Harbor still gives me goose-bumps. Every time. Its only 6 mins long, so worth a listen (click here for wikipedia’s ogg/vorbis version). The written speech misses out the emotion, timing, and reaction of the people present.

The interesting little legal detail here is that, back in 1941, the only way people got to hear these broadcasts were over the commercially owned airwaves, or commercial newsreels in cinemas. This has the unusual side effect of many recordings of historically important national events being owned by private commercial broadcasting companies, not by the public.

Here in the US, the incoming Obama administration is making an important move to use new technologies to get government owned content directly to the public. This makes lots of sense in a generation where people get their news on The Daily Show, and google.com/news while NPR and traditional printed newspapers try to survive with plummeting audiences. Changing the broadcast medium is just one part. It’s also important that the new content be available to the public, not just owned by just a different private commercial company. The work that Mitchell and John Lilly have been doing here with Creative Commons licensing is literally history in the making.

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