Blog/20100122 IARU Workshop

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As part of the IARU (International Association of Research Universities) workshop on Open Access publishing at ETH Zurich in Switzerland (21/22nd January 2010), we put together a workshop on Open Video. The reason for the workshop was to raise awareness for Open Video among IARU members, but also to raise awareness for Open Access at those institutions dealing with Academic Video.

While Open Video does come under Open Access more generally, there are still some issues that pertain to Open Video, and in particular recordings of events, including academic lectures. Using technologies like the Opencast Matterhorn application, such recordings are now mass producible, and now is a good time to consider the opportunities and challenges in making such video open.

The overall IARU workshop was perhaps aimed at librarians, and we may ask how many of the open objects currently stores in library repositories are video? At the moment, perhaps not that many. However, we’ll see substantial growth due to technology development, and we need to be ready for this change.

Moreover, many partners currently involved in the Opencast Community not only seek to produce more lecture recordings, but also seek to exchange these openly, in addition to using commercial channels (like iTunesU, YouTube Edu) to surface their video to large audiences.

Olaf A. Schulte from ETH Zurich opened the workshop with a talk on these issues, introducing the Opencast idea, the Opencast Community and the closely connected Matterhorn project at the same time.

Simon Schlauri (Creative Commons, Switzerland), then familiarized the audience with the main facts around CC; in detail, he also talked about

  • the necessity of legal clearance with regard to the lecturs recorded (check for copyright violations),
  • resulting responsibilities on behalf of lecturers and institutions,
  • due diligence the institution has to exercise when it comes to the review of the material, and
  • “fair use”, a legal construct that might allow the use of copyrighted material - in a certain context though and dependent on the national jurisdiction's interpretation of "fair use".

The discussion hereafter very much raised the question what the actual risk of legal problems is with video and academic content in general. There was overwhelming consensus that the figures of actual lawsuits are insignificant to non-existant when compared to the number of objects being dealt with.

Bjoern Hassler (University of Cambridge) spoke about the "The Steeple/Opencast metadata project", emphasising the need for an agreed metadata standard as a pre-requisite for sharing materials. The Steeple project has taken a pragmatic approach, and is using a combination of RSS/Atom/Yahoo Media for bringing video materials into a shared structures (see e.g.

Peter Robinson (Oxford University). Oxford University was one of the first UK universities to join iTunesU. Surfacing Oxford video materials through iTunesU has been highly successful for Oxford, and made their video available to a broad audience. However, the vision at Oxford went further than this: Video should not just be publicly available, but it should be available as Open Video, for sharing and re-use. An important step in this was to talk to people individually, convincing them that making videos available under a CC license would be a good way forward.

Katsusuke Shigeta from the University of Tokyo then reported on activities in Tokyo to foster the creation of Opencourseware (OCW) and Open Video content and identified a number of similarities between these. Both are restricted in their role to disseminate knowledge by the resources it takes to clarify the legal status; also, the language barrier comes into this.

Mara Hancock (UC Berkeley) closed the workshop with a talk on Open Access and accessibility. How can we make video recordings more accessible? At present there are high cost implications e.g. for close captioning, so at Berkeley close captioning currently tends happens on demand. There are features built into Matterhorn now, that should help with accessibility. In the future, it is hoped that Matterhorn would support full speech-to-text, and that we can thereby find technical solutions to at least some accessibility issues.

Overall, the workshop showed that Open Academic Video has the potential to fully benefit from the Open Access paradigm. By comparison though, there are a number of differences to the "traditional" side of Open Access. In the library domain, reducing subscription fees is an important motivation for Open Access, whereas in the domain of multimedia financial issues seem to be less imporant, perhaps because there are neither journals nore publishers in the same sense. Also, the academic relevance of publishing in distinct journals is yet unknow to video. And it seems fair to say that Open Access - if you take a look at the Berlin Declaration ( for example - is often more focused on research at the moment. There is thus a case for making an addendum to the Berlin declaration, that focusses more on education on the one hand, but also on new open objects, such as Open Academic Video.

Olaf Schulte, Bjoern Hassler, 22nd January 2010

2010-01-22 | Leave a comment | Back to blog