Pitching Control

This ad on Campus Technology worries me. It’s from a company who I believe was on the road to extintion: Real Networks. Remember RealPlayer?

They developed a product, named Helix. Their pitch goes like this:

Stream lectures.
Archive athletic events.
Control who uploads and downloads content.

Currently serving hundreds of universities (including Rutgers), Helix is revamping the Control mode:

…create a branded video library that functions like YouTube, complete with the security your organization needs.

Which is OK if you are Coca-Cola and you want to hide your How-To videos from all those spies from Pepsi, but is questionable for a University, which should be the temple of openness.

In fact, if you want a video library to work like YouTube, and you are within academia, well, why don’t you use YouTube? Quality factors? Yes, I agree, it’s not consistent quality, and you have a lot of limitations. But you have also complete freedom. It’s “open” and universal.

Seriously, I am worried that we are little by little going back to the closed model of media behind paywalls or firewalls in our colleges. Faculty: consider please not publishing videos, lectures or whatever behind closed doors, with proprietary formats.

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About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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3 Responses to Pitching Control

  1. Tim Owens says:

    I'm right there with you in advocating for open systems that aren't behind walls. I'd just like to see Universities that produce video content have an easy way to put it online without transferring those ownership rights to services that will place ads on them, possibly pull them for copyright violations, or worst case close up shop and delete all files with little to no notice. YouTube is great for social video sharing but just about abysmal for anything of real value.

  2. Antonio Vantaggiato says:

    Yeah, I understand. Thanks, DCMA.
    Still, why put our own (university-produced, usually non-top-secret) content under another wall? What reasons are there to do so? Because we fear it may be copied or misappropriated?

  3. Tim Owens says:

    I can tell you why we're looking into alternatives to YouTube. 15 minute limit on video uploads unless Google blesses your account with extended rights combined with an absolutely draconian view of copyright policy. We've had student's use public domain material and have it flagged and their videos removed because a company has decided they think they can apply a copyright to a piece of work (even videos that live in Archive.org). I don't disagree that a closed system sucks and when we look at alternative options for a media server we will most definitely serve everything by default in the open, but I'm afraid YouTube is not the great space it once was thanks to heavy-handed enforcement of the DMCA.

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