This is a continuation of the earlier posting by Vasilis, and the subsequent commentary by Michel Bauwens, on the discussion in Greece about the national broadcaster ERT.
We publish the following commentary by George Papanikolaou separately, as it clearly poses the more general issue of public property vs. commons property.
“A diverse nature of resources consist of what is called “public property” or “state property” in contemporary capitalism. It is therefore evident that not all of them can convert to peer property. For instance, these days, Greek people are very concerned about the future of the Greek national airline company “Olympic airways”, which is thought to be non sustainable in terms of the market economy; discussions is in progress concerning the state property and Olympic’s fate. It is hard to imagine a peer property regime in the case of an air carrier due to the nature of the process of production.
However, the case of the archives of the National Radio and TV Broadcasting company ERT is completely different. The company is sustained by a form of obligatory taxation collected through electricity bills, and all Greek residents have been contributing to the accumulation of this cultural wealth. Technically, at a first glance ERT does not seem to depend financially on the monetarization of the accumulated wealth of this archive. Therefore it is unlikely that there is a strong argument on restricting the accessibility of this archive in terms of sustainability of the company. Though production of raw audiovisual material is greatly facilitated by the advances in technology, it is difficult to imagine that TV production can be transformed to a purely p2p process in the short term. Hence I agree with Michel on that it is too early to discuss about p2p tv production. In our case we discuss about reclaiming already existing resources of raw audiovisual material whose production was almost entirely funded by Greek residents.
Michel states that there is an obvious moral argument why this kind of data should be available to all. I have nothing to add on this issue. In my view, the more interesting point is the new market that will be created by freeing the data. Since access to the use of proprietary audiovisual material is restricted to business that can afford it (in our case a hand full of big private broadcasting companies) small players and alternative media as well as the majority of creators are excluded. As Michel says this creates only a tiny market. Another aspect is that freeing the data will assist the spread of modern Greek culture which is of particular importance for small countries highly depended on tourism.
But here comes the crucial question: which form of commons do we really want this archive to become? We have left this purposely open as an issue to be discussed. My opinion is that it should be left open even for commercial use to any one, probably with the exception of traditional private broadcasting media. Why not? These companies are immediate competitors of ERT and quite wealthy to pay for the data. I would never impose the some restriction to Internet streaming since this is a novel economy which should be enhanced. BBC has created modified licenses for distribution of the material and it seems more likely to me that a modified CC licence (or GPL) adapted to the country’s needs is the more appropriate solution. But what is important right now is not to define the exact licence. In a modern democracy, such as Greece claims to be, the exact form should be defined after an open discussion and maybe a struggle between multiple stakeholders and social movements.
What is a necessity right now is to persuade Greek citizens that this is an important issue for which they should claim their rights and comple ERT as well the government to reevaluate the situation and open a democratic dialogue within society.