Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

NECC 2008 Podcasters beware! New ISTE policy on new media conference coverage

This is the first time I have ever seen a statement and legal requirement of this type for an educational conference, and I suspect it will not be the last. According to the current (19 June 2008) NECC 2008 Attendees Registration Overview and Confirmation page, NO ONE is permitted to make a full-length audio recording for an online podcast of any NECC 2008 conference session without the explicit, written permission of BOTH the presenter and ISTE:

NECC 2008 Podcasters beware!

In case you are not able to view the Flickr image above in your present location because of content filtering, here is the text of the policy:


Full video/audio capture of NECC sessions and activities is strictly prohibited without express written permission from BOTH: 1.) the session presenter/s, and 2.) ISTE. Those holding official ISTE-issued press credentials may capture footage for media coverage purposes only.

Amateur video/audio capture is permitted of ambient environments, informal exchanges and sessions, and sessions and activities not organized by ISTE, etc., provided that appropriate permissions have been granted by the parties affected. ISTE assumes no liability for copyright and/or intellectual property violations that may occur as a result. Amateur video/audio capture is also permitted in NECC sessions and activities provided that the length of capture does not exceed 10 minutes AND appropriate permissions have been granted by the presenter/s.

Under no circumstances may any length or quality of video/audio capture of NECC sessions be used for marketing, advertising, or commercial purposes without express written permission from BOTH: 1.) the session presenter/s, and 2.) ISTE.

This policy actually says two different things, as I understand it, which relate to full length session recordings:

  1. Prior WRITTEN permission is required from both ISTE and a presenter(s) to record a full length presentation for any purpose. This apparently applies even to recordings made by actual presenters of their own sessions.
  2. No COMMERCIAL use of any recording made at NECC can be used without ISTE and the presenter’s written permission.

Given the disruptive power of new media recording, sharing and collaboration technologies, I suppose a policy similar to this addressing these issues is inevitable. In many ways, including the NECC 2008 conference Ning and ISTE’s island in Second Life, ISTE is continuing to lead the way for advocacy of blended learning and digitally-infused professional development strategies. I hope we’ll see this policy and the ways ISTE addresses intellectual property issues continue to evolve and mature. (I feel confident we will.)

I’d like to see a set of fields for presenters which encourages and permits them to explicitly give permission to record and share their session online with audio and video included in the call for proposals. (Let presenters specifically select a Creative Commons license and other terms under which they want to share their presentation. LOTS – in my view a majority – of educators still don’t know about Creative Commons and understand how it can and should be used in education to support the open content movement.) This is what we do for the K-12 Online Conference in our call for proposals, except presenters can’t select a license, they have to agree to the one we’ve selected (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported) in order to submit. (The K12Online08 call has been extended to July 11, btw, giving everyone a week after NECC to complete them!)

To meet these NECC 2008 session podcasting requirements I have and am doing several things. First, I have created a new Podcast Permission and Release page on my blog, which includes a printable PDF form which I can use for presenters to sign face-to-face at a session, and an electronic form which can be completed by a presenter in advance. My plan (at this stage) is to flesh out my planned schedule for sessions to attend at NECC using the online conference planner, and then contact each presenter individually via email whose session I would possibly like to record and share on my podcast. I am thinking I’ll then email ISTE (unfortunately an email contact link is not yet provided on the Video/Audio Recording Code of Conduct page) with a complete list of the sessions I request permission to record and share as non-commercial podcasts. I’ll also (I guess, just to be legally safe) ask for permission to audio record and share MY OWN presentations at NECC 2008. This seems a little silly to do, but appears to be required by the verbage of the current policy.

In the past I have recorded and shared multiple presentations from NECC, but have always done so with the direct, explicit permission of the presenter and NOT ISTE. Having to obtain the permission of ISTE is something new, and will present new hurdles and challenges. It will be interesting to see what they’ll say in response to my requests.

This entire conversation over intellectual property issues and new media recording/sharing is both important and very interesting. This is similar to the conversations (and arguments) which took place at the university where I worked on staff for five years, over “who owns” the distance learning courses and course content created by faculty. This issue is still unresolved at some universities, but many have adopted policies which basically say ownership is “shared” by both the professor and the institution.

In the case of an educational conference like NECC, which is not paying “regular” session presenters anything to share their content, I question the legal basis for ISTE requiring written permission for anyone to record and share a conference session, when that recording and session is done on a non-commercial basis. In the case of a university and a professor who is developing a distance learning course, that academic professional in that case is receiving monetary compensation from the university, and as such their “work for hire” can arguably be co-owned by the paying institution as well as the educator. The situation with an academic conference is different, however. If keynote presenters and others are receiving financial compensation for their sessions, then perhaps the organization hosting the conference could lay claim to the intellectual property shared at their conference. That could be up for a lot of debate, however. I’d think the contracts keynote and spotlight speakers sign for conferences should address these issues. I may ask someone I know at EFF to share this with their lawyers and see if there are precedents to follow and know about in other conference contexts.

Again, I think this issue should be addressed directly in the call for proposals for academic conferences, where presenters are able to directly select a Creative Commons license for their conference presentation and UP FRONT specify the terms under which they are willing to allow or not allow others to record and share their work. At our recent “Survive and Thrive” single mom’s conference in Edmond, Oklahoma, conference conveners asked the Tulsa-based company Conference Resource to record and offer for sale all the presentations shared during the 2 day event. This was very cool, but I was surprised that:

  1. Presenters were not asked whether it was OK to record, share and SELL their presentation audio.
  2. The company sold audio recordings of each presenter’s session for $6 each, which was about half what they normally charge for events of this type.

Conference organizers SHOULD pursue the option of getting all sessions at an event recorded and shared, but in ALL cases presenter permission should be obtained. (This goes for amateur podcasters as well, of course.) This is particularly important if someone is going to SELL and profit from the recorded audio and/or video files. This permission-granting process is best accomplished at the front end, when presenters submit proposals. I consider it a 21st century educational conference “best practice” to solicit Creative Commons licensing terms from presenters at the outset, and then make those terms available/public on the conference website pages for each session. In addition to listing session tags for bloggers, NECC2009 can and should list whether the presenter consents to audio and/or video recording of his/her session, and the licensing terms of the content under which they are willing to share their recorded ideas.

Amidst all these discussions, I think we need to keep in mind that the ostensible goal of educational conferences and professional development events like NECC is to foster learning, personal growth, collaboration and idea sharing. Some observers (Gary Stager is the main one who comes to my mind in this context) have observed that educational technology conferences like NECC can take on more the atmosphere of a “boat show” than a learning event, and I think there is a LOT of truth to that on the vendor floor from time to time, as well as in some sessions. As leaders of different organizations, both local and national/international, we need to keep our focus on the learning and collaboration opportunities and be careful not to become focused on the “boat show” elements of conferences. Should conference attendees at NECC and other events be free to record partial or complete conference sessions and share them later as podcasts, if they receive permission from the presenters? (That is what I did last year in Atlanta with Dr. Tim Tyson following his closing keynote.) Absolutely yes! Will “we” (volunteer new-media archivists and documentarians of learning conferences) be able to do that this year at NECC 2008 in San Antonio? It looks like that answer is a qualified yes. WITH prior permission, session recording and subsequent online sharing will be possible.

I’ll discuss these issues in greater detail the week following NECC during my breakout session for the Missouri Distance Learning Association’s annual conference (on July 9th) titled “Digital Learning Objects on the Open Web.”

Now, to figure out all the sessions I want to attend at NECC this year….. 🙂

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27 responses to “NECC 2008 Podcasters beware! New ISTE policy on new media conference coverage”

  1. Darren Draper Avatar


    I’m thinking that if ISTE were to follow the examples of smaller – but more progressive – conferences, people wouldn’t need to produce their own copies of sessions. TTIX sets an amazing example in this regard.

  2. Carolyn Foote Avatar

    Hm, this does seem regressive to me as well.

    I wonder if this also applies to videotaped excerpts of sessions (probably)?

    I love your idea of letting presenters assign creative commons licensing to their own presentations, by the way.

  3. Wesley Fryer Avatar

    Dean Shareski shared the guidelines for media recording at a recent educational conference he attended in Canada:

    Please note that audio and video recording will be taking place throughout the Summit. By entering the event premises, you consent to interview(s), photography, audio recording, video recording and its/their release, publication, exhibition, or reproduction to be used for news, web casts, promotional purposes, telecasts, advertising, inclusion on web sites, or any other purpose by TLt Summit 2008 and its affiliates and representatives.

    Big difference!

  4. Derek Avatar

    So when someone gives a presentation, does ISTE own the Intellectual Property (IP) rights or does the presenter? I can understand asking the presenter for permission, but I’m confounded why ISTE is making this policy decision. I think ISTE may have just opened Pandora’s Box.

  5. Peggy George Avatar
    Peggy George

    Thanks, Wes, for “thinking out loud” on this issue and providing some great food for thought. I had read the NECC policy and wasn’t personally concerned because I didn’t plan to broadcast/podcast any recordings I would be making. However, the implications are great for those of us who want to hear about sessions we missed or those who are not able to attend NECC in person. It has the potential of being very limiting because not everyone will want to go that extra step to obtain ISTE permission on top of the presenter permission, and may just decide not to podcast/videocast. Is it safe to assume that a person could record full sessions, either audio or video, for their own use to view/listen to later without obtaining any permission, as long as they do NOT podcast or distribute it on the internet? I agree completely with your recommendation of allowing presenters to indicate up front at the time of their application whether they grant permission for podcasting/vodcasting and to indicate the type of license that is being used. I would like to see it be “Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported” used by the K12online Conference. What a scramble now for people who want to podcast/vodcast to obtain all of the necessary permissions before NECC. You have a great personal solution. Thanks for sharing your PDF form. I was hoping NECC would post their permission form but I haven’t found it yet.

  6. Sharon Peters Avatar

    Wes, you have raised many interesting issues about these new policies. I had thought and hoped ISTE was a progressive organization and would address these new social media opportunities with more latitude, but clearly there is much more here at stake (the cynical part of me thinks it may have something to do with power and $$$).

    I like your idea about bringing up CC right at the outset of acceptance of proposals. Creative Commons offers a variety of choices and many educators still need to be informed about CC. We are leaders in ICT; this precedent of ISTE makes me wonder how far we have come and how much further we have to go.

    I will not be at NECC this year – in fact, I will be working with Teachers Without Borders in two developing nations hoping to promote ICT and address the issues of educational and digital equity.

    Thousands of teachers from around the world will never have the opportunity to attend a conference so rich in professional development opportunities. However, because of podcasting and webcasting, they may have an opportunity to benefit from the expertise of educators – with their permission. I doubt very many educators would balk at that possibility – we are a sharing community.

    Thanks Wes for sharing your ideas and best of luck in your negotiations with ISTE on these matters. These are very important precedents that are being set and I am thankful that you will be representing the side of reason.

    Sharon Peters

  7. Bill Fitzgerald Avatar

    The big question mark in this whole thing is how readily ISTE grants permission to record and podcast events.

    If this policy is enforced permissively (ie, just ask us so we can say yes), then I see this being more of a hurdle than an obstacle.

    If they use this to quash participant media, however, then this is a different thing altogether.

    BTW, I enjoyed this line: “I hope we’ll see this policy and the ways ISTE addresses intellectual property issues continue to evolve and mature. (I feel confident we will.)” — that is one of the finest specimens of tactful restraint I have seen in a long time.



  8. John Hendron Avatar

    Thanks for sharing this with us – I likely would have never noticed it. I wasn’t planning on recording sessions (I do well enough with the handouts), but knowing this is good.

    I don’t blame ISTE – they’re protecting the rights of their presenters and asking us to preserve the value in attending live. Is it wrong for me to believe the by paying and flying and traveling to attend earns me more rights in having access to the content?

    They may be protecting their own institution. By live-casting and giving everything away, they may be questioning their business model. Right now, they likely want to try and preserve what they have. I am sure this will be an evolving issue as ISTE and other organizations come to grips with the impact of emerging technologies.

  9. Miguel Guhlin Avatar

    Wes, I’ve posted my response with a letter I sent to ISTE’s Dr. Don Knezek (whom I greatly respect) and Leslie Connery (ISTE) here:

    I encourage everyone reading your blog entry to follow suit and take the next steps proposed in my blog entry.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

    Miguel Guhlin
    Around the

  10. Sharon Peters Avatar

    John, I would agree that there is great value in attending live! I don’t believe that is being threatened here. The conversations and f2f encounters are incredibly valuable and not at all being diminished in value, as I see it. I have attended the previous two NECCs and could not begin to put a value on the experiences and relationships built during those conferences.

    But what about all those who cannot afford to attend the conference? Is there a price being put on knowledge here? The Haves can get, the Have-nots can NOT get? If we have the ability to broadcast educational materials, resources, best-practices, etc., should we not use it? We need to take a deeper look at these issues and the implications for global educational equity. I would be so bold as to say it is UNETHICAL to withhold resources and knowledge when we have the power to share.

  11. Kim Caise Avatar


    I just love many of the comments and share similar feelings as those you and others expressed concerning the media coverage at NECC. I agree that you showed great diplomacy in sharing your thoughts and concerns about this issue personally believe that this policy came about as a result of the bottom line, money. While most educators would gladly comply and give consent to share the NECC sessions, the adherence to and enforcement of this new policy should have been delayed so that presenters knew up front before submitting and agreeing to present. Like one commenter noted, many educators will not be able to attend and reliance upon the sharing of media coverage of the content is essential to keeping current with ed tech trends, tools and issues. I find it sad that ISTE has taken such a restricting stand with the implementation of this policy. My first and only attendance at NECC was in Atlanta (had a disastrous experience that I shared on my blog last summer) and found the conference more suited to higher education and administrators versus educators that work with students in a K12 classroom. Even though I live in San Antonio, I still haven’t committed to attending this year. Thanks for sharing Wes!

  12. Mark Ahlness Avatar

    Wes, this is so disappointing to hear about. I can’t attend, and was really looking forward to the immediacy of it all, from far away. Reminds me of school district filters trying to “control” where kids go at school. They can’t. Librarians aren’t the only ones with access to the books anymore. ISTE will find this out as well. I’m surprised they are coming out with something so regressive.

    I was all hot to post something about XO laptops at NECC (and elsewhere, with an interest in NECC) connecting to a virtual jabber server to share realtime conference info. Wonder if they’ve got THAT one covered? – Mark

  13. Brian Crosby Avatar

    How many people when they find out about this policy are going to say, “Dang, I wasn’t going to NECC because I figured I’d attend via the web and that would be pretty much just as good as being there. Now I wish I had made arrangements to attend!”

    The answer: ZERO

    How many people are attending this year even partly because of what they saw and heard via the web last year?

    The answer: I don’t know … but there seems to have been a buzz created … just look how many more people are attending the Edubloggercon … and that costs extra money and time to attend because of the added days.

  14. Pam Shoemaker Avatar

    There’s going to be a big backlash on this policy for sure. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. We need our copyright experts to pipe in here. I don’t see how ISTE has any legal rights to the intellectual property of independent presenters.

  15. Steve Ransom Avatar

    What if audio or video is never “captured” or “recorded”, but rather simply broadcast live via uStream or other technologies, for example. Is this a loophole, sad as it is?

  16. Gary S. Stager, Ph.D. Avatar

    ISTE, like most conferences try to own everything. They always have. Conference proceedings often require you to sign away copyright.

    I’m sure that ISTE thinks they can make seventeen cents selling CDs of SOME sessions. One year they actually sold a CD of me bagging the ISTE Standards. I don’t imagine they sold 2 copies.

    A little civil disobedience is in order.

    At my sessions I will:
    1) Tell the audience that ISTE claims ownership of my content without my consent or remuneration.
    2) Ask where the ISTE podcasts of all conference sessions will be available on the Web.
    3) Invite the audience to record away

    There are several differences between NECC and a conference like TED.
    1) TED is good
    2) Authors/speakers are willing to “share” their IP because the production values and distribution will be of a high quality
    As for protecting ISTE’s “business model,” they are a non-profit membership organization – not a lobbying or publishing firm.

  17. scottmerrick Avatar

    Wow. Interesting stuff. I so enjoy reading the comments, and I want to chime in to thank you, Wes, for the heads-up. Before I click above to read Miguel’s take, I want to say that we all should have seen this coming. I’ve sent an email to NECC to claim permission to share out, like many comments indicate many of us have.

    Putting on a conference like this is an unbelievably complex challenge. At least _I_ can’t imagine it, in its entirety. I’m going to NECC with my optimism in my pocket and my joy of learning waving like a beanie flag. Organizers and the organization have been nothing short of marvelous to me and to mine.

    That said, the salient issue is that all of us are looking to increase not necessarily “commercial” capital, but “informational” value. We are looking to do something big for love, as Clay Shirky might say. This policy seems to come down like a heavy booted foot on a hippy’s bare one. The joy of sharing stifled by the legal constrictions of capitalism and institutional self-interest.

    We should have seen it coming. Can ISTE rise above it? I’m soooooo looking forward to Saturday’s edubloggercon (just google it) to see what my wild, wide community of share-addicts think of all this…Right on, Gary 🙂

  18. mrsdurff Avatar

    Gary Stager recommending civil disobedience? Way to go Stager!

  19. vejraska Avatar

    I appreciate your pro-active approach to this new policy. I look forward to hearing what ISTE says. I had a less productive reaction to the policy announcement, but decided not to put it here.

  20. Alec Couros Avatar

    Simply solution: “Full-length” isn’t clarified. Cut off the lame introductions from the broadcast and it is no longer “full-length”.

    I was planning to go to NECC in 2009 (couldn’t go this year) but I will not if it is this restrictive. I have been avoiding these types of conferences and these types of journals for my publication. Unless presenters/writers/creators can do what they want with their content, I’m not interested.

    But of course, I’m only one person. Perhaps more people need to protest by choosing another place to spend their professional development dollars.

  21. Kathy Schrock Avatar
    Kathy Schrock

    My ongoing concern with being video- or audio-taped is that I have garnered permission from others to include their videos and other information in my presentation at NECC, but did not explicitly ask if the items could be re-posted on the Web.

    When I post my presentations to my site, I often do not include the information from others, just the link to where it sits on the Web so others can get to it as they go through my presentation online.

    Just my thoughts….


  22. Karen Kliegman Avatar
    Karen Kliegman

    Thanks, Wes, for the heads up. I especially agree with your remark, “in the case of an educational conference like NECC, which is not paying “regular” session presenters anything to share their content, I question the legal basis for ISTE requiring written permission for anyone to record and share a conference session, when that recording and session is done on a non-commercial basis.” How many of us go to these conferences, paying our own way, putting hours and hours into our presentations, just to share our knowledge and excitement? Cost can run upwards of a $1,000. That drives me crazy. And what if you can’t afford to fly to San Antonio and the cost of a hotel room and registration costs??? Most school districts do not provide this kind of funding for teachers.

  23. Terry Freedman Avatar

    I think I agree with Peggy on this issue, in a modified way. When I hva eorganised conferences in the UK, I tell everyone that podcasting is *expected* — unless a presenter specifically requests otherwise. In other words, I adopt an opt-out policy, which I think is better than ISTE’s opt-in policy. Perhaps they will switch next year, as it sounds like they were panicked into this decision.

  24. Barbara Bray Avatar

    I am not able to attend Edubloggercon this year. Podcasting is a given there, right? I will be in the air when this is going on and then at NECC. I really wanted to follow the conversations. What about the Blogger Cafe and WOW and events that are happening simultaneously at NECC? I’ll be posting on my blog and podcasting during NECC. Can we take pictures?

    This issue is one that we have to discuss. It seems to be a $ issue. Who owns your content? I want to share what I know and learn from you and you and you. When I post online I hope that others read it, use it, share it.

  25. Nancy Pratt Avatar

    Hi Wes, and Everyone,

    Last year was my first NECC experience. I have to say that the biggest impact and walk-away that I had was the sharing and global feel of information. It was free flowing and energizing. If you remember, at least for me, it was extremely special and huge and amazing the genuine open sharing and communication, learning! If I missed a session, all I had to do was find someone who blogged about it and I could usually hear some if it on a podcast. Amazing.

    It would be a shame if this policy stifled the creative juices and free-flowing communication that a conference like this sparks. I am going there to learn and grow. But not being able to be two or five places at once, I hope to still be able to gain and learn from others who are willing to be “civilly disobedient”!!! 🙂

  26. sylvia martinez Avatar

    ISTE is a member organization. This is not “us” against “them”. Every member should expect that these policies are open for discussion and can be changed.

    This is a perfect opportunity for ISTE members to make their voices heard – so now seems like the time to get involved. How about coming to the ISTE Member Welcome session Sunday afternoon and state the case there?

    In fact, in past years, wasn’t there a member meeting at NECC to discuss ISTE policy and direction? Did that go away? Or am I not seeing it in the schedule?

    I plead totally guilty of ignoring my duty as an ISTE member to speak up and take part in the organization policy development.

  27. Scott S. Floyd Avatar

    ROFL. I would expect nothing less. That’s what I respect about you. Take a stand in what you believe. It is your content, right?

    I really can’t wait until the New Hampshire conference. Should be interesting.

    As for this topic, I already emailed my response and got a reply that the rewrite is under construction at this time. We will all know soon enough.