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In theory, publishing content financed by public and tax-like television licence fees under open content licenses should be a no-brainer. As with publicly funded research, open licenses improve distribution, allow for remix creativity and unlock access to popular free knowledge platforms such as Wikipedia.

In practice, however, advocates of open licenses in the realm of public-service media face several hurdles, such as:

  • Standard licensing procedures in the world of public-service media do not include open licensing options and are typically limited in time and in scope. Therefore, releasing material under an open license requires renewed rights clearing efforts with all right holders involved to reflect the conditions set out in open licenses — given the often high number of creators and right holders involved in video content production, this is a difficult, time-consuming, and costly task.
  • Standard remuneration rules can make open licensing unattractive for creators. One common provision, for example, requires public service broadcasters to pay repeated fees any time material is broadcast. With an open license, there are usually no required payments. As a result, remuneration schemes have to be changed to avoid or mitigate the loss of income for creators.
  • European Union competition law prohibits state subsidies that may distort competition. Usually, free and open licenses don’t pose a problem in terms of competition law as long as no special advantage for an individual market actor is associated with using an open license. Generally, public broadcasters act with great caution when it comes to competition rules and many have concerns regarding licensing arrangements that could potentially set off competition issues.
  • There are fears of information manipulation. In light of recent debates on disinformation and “fake news”, public-service media fear that the content they release might be deceivingly and fraudulently manipulated so as to misrepresent facts. While Creative Commons licenses generally permit the creation of derivative works or adaptations (unless the licensor chooses to release content under a NoDerivatives license) and attribution is a requirement for all CC licenses as is a link back to the original so users can see any changes made, they do not govern defamation, disinformation or fabrication of information, which are violations dealt with outside the scope of copyright. Still, there is a reticence in public media television to openly publish content due to such threats despite the aforementioned safeguards within the CC licenses.

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The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
July 2020
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All texts on governance across borders are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany License.