Ian Elwood, reporting in BeyondChron.com, notes that while Mayor Gavin Newsom will be making his upcoming "State of the City" address available on YouTube as well as on SFGTV and local cable Channel 26, it's not clear whether the video "webisodes" of the 7.5 hour speech will be available as public records, or protected by copyright from re-use by the public.

Before YouTube, the State of the City speech would have taken place in front of city officials and hence been subject to open meeting laws, while also being a part of the public record. Even though re-use of SFGTV footage is limited by copyright, theoretically reporters or citizens at a public speech could still take their own footage so there wasn't a monopoly on mediation of the event. The State of the City address was filmed in private at the newly renovated Academy of Sciences. Hosting the speech on YouTube allows for greater digital access, but still maintains similar legal impediments as the SFGTV/Granicus.com footage. Thus it solves one problem while exacerbating another.

Elwood cites a model for resolving this policy clash.

To avoid any conflicts with public records or open access laws that could potentially restrict the use of such footage, Gavin Newsom should follow the lead of the incoming president, Barack Obama. The website of the new administration, Change.gov, has adopted a Creative Commons Attribution license and made its videos available for download to ensure that use of the footage is not inadvertently restricted. The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that the use of the CC license supports participatory democracy by negating the default "all rights reserved" copyright that is applied to creative work posted to websites.

This approach has authoritative support.

"There is no possible justification for a government official using copyright to control the distribution of him or his work," was the response I got about the issue from Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law Professor and founder of Creative Commons. "Nor is there any reason to give a commercial entity the exclusive benefit of a government officials work. It is great news that the Mayor is spreading his message broadly. But he should do so consistent with 'open government' values."