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Open Video Workbook

Case Study - Engagemedia.org

Engagemedia.org is an online video sharing website: a free and open alternative to commercial services with the aim of serving the needs of movements and communities working for social and environmental justice. Their geographical focus is on the Asia Pacific. Engagemedia were one of the convening partners of the Transmission series of events that focused on the use of Free Software and open video for the distribution of the video of social movements. 

In their own words "We believe independent media and free and open technologies are fundamental to building the movements needed to challenge social injustice and environmental damage."

When talking about different solutions for distributing user generated content using websites, the question often comes up 'Why not use YouTube?' Here are some of the reasons people choose to run self hosted video sharing websites and to contribute to them:

Free tools for freedom: The context in which you watch video is important. While many people have the impression that Youtube helps to bring an audience to your video, in fact the opposite is also true - that your video is lost in amongst all the other content. In reality, most people get attention for their video by promoting it elsewhere on the web, and this is true regardless of the platform.

It would be wrong to argue that YouTube and other commercial video sharing websites have not be useful in distributing the work of social movements and other independent producers. There exists a dedicated Human Rights channel 1 giving more more profile to key videos. However, to rely on the good will of a large international corporation and to have their work displayed within the context of an advertisement driven consumer ecology is clearly out of sync with many the goals of many community based organisations, campaigner, artists or academics.

For these reasons many people chose platforms that show their video in a context that is more in line with their values.

The control of information: in order to use YouTube you will need to sign a contract that hands rights over to them allowing them to use your video in different ways, including removing your video from the internet or handing information over to governments. You will also be handing over information to them about who views your video and from where. This information, along with any comments posted or any additional data, will belong to them and is how they make their money.

The future consequences of a single corporation (Google, who own Youtube) owning detailed information about the online behaviour of a vast amount of people is not very well understood yet. For many people, this is reason enough to use alternatives where possible.

How Engagemedia solved this problem

In order to do this, Engagemedia.org developed a new tool for distributing video on the internet called Plumi - Content Management System, which is published under a GPL/ZPL licence. This module focuses on the use of that tool.

  1. http://www.youtube.com/user/humanrights ^

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