Why the Coastside Fire Board should keep the copyright to tapes of its meetings
NOTE: The Coastside Fire Protection District board is considering whether it should hire MCTV or Montara Fog to tape its meetings. This is my prepared statement to the board at its meeting Tuesday night.
In the four years that I have been publishing Coastsider, my priority has always been to cover all boards on the Coastside as honestly and fairly as possible. As part of that commitment, I have devoted a great deal of time and energy to taping public meetings which are also taped by MCTV.
I have had to do this because MCTV will not allow any Coastside news organization to reuse video of meetings they have taped.
Ultimately MCTV will have to acknowledge that tapes of elected boards that are paid for with public money are owned by the public and not by MCTV. But in the meantime, I recommend that regardless of which vendor the board chooses to tape its meetings, that the district insist that the vendor not interfere with public’s right to the contents of the tapes.
There is more than one way to do this, but MCTV’s current misguided policy is not in the public’s interest or that of the board, and is based strictly on the self-interest of the station itself.
The public is denied easy access to newsworthy events that happen in board meetings when they are buried in gavel-to-gavel coverage.
Boards are vulnerable to having their actions distorted by news reports and by political opponents when the actual proceedings are not freely available to the public.
And the community as a whole is impoverished when public property is treated as private property, even by a nonprofit organization.
Whichever vendor you choose to tape your meetings or to distribute them on the web, I urge the board to insist that the final product is the property of the public and available for reuse by anyone who wants it.