The People’s Media Record (PMR) originated as a necessary practice to facilitate access to media created by the Media Mobilizing Project (MMP). Throughout its evolution, we have learned that archiving is an extension of some of the core beliefs MMP was founded on, that “the right to free speech means little without the means to be heard.” The stories of our movements today become our histories tomorrow.
PMR recognizes that archives, especially when held up as authoritative historical records, are an important part of how historical narratives are created. Centering the preferences of the communities depicted within the archive is an essential part of our general policy.
PMR also believes that telling the stories of our social movements, especially from within the most impacted communities, strengthens our continuing movements and communities. Who gets to tell those stories and how they get told have a lasting impact on how we grow as people and how our communities and movements grow.
While the content in our archive may be within the legal purview of PMR to distribute, as members of the community we understand that media can be used against us just as easily as it can be used to strengthen and unify our networks. We also understand that the participants in the original productions did not necessarily imagine the incorporation of raw footage into a platform such as this. Our policies regarding privacy, access, copyright, and licensing attempt to provide guidance that balances the importance of both access and privacy.
These policies are shaped around the MMP collection, which for now represents the essence of our archive. A full PDF version of the policies, including references, can be seen here.
We are committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of all the individuals, groups, and organizations whose lives and activities are documented in these materials. A large portion of the videos from the Media Mobilizing Project collection was recorded in plain sight and in public places.
When conducting interviews or creating content focused on individuals, Media Mobilizing Project made sure that consent forms were signed at the moment of documentation. When unable to provide written consent forms, staff and volunteers secured “on-camera” releases.
We recognize that when signing their consent, individuals, groups, and organizations did not necessarily envision forming part of this archive and/or being seen and identified in raw material by the archive’s users, years after they were recorded.
For content that was created in the context of organizing or outside of the explicit public arena, our general practice is to seek permission from the current staff of those organizations that still exist. In the case of those that no longer exist, we try to locate leading members and request their permission.
However, this practice does not necessarily extend to the documentation of public figures, which we define here as people who have been or will be voluntarily involved in public life, from politicians and business leaders to celebrities. Because of the power that public figures hold in society, we believe that the public has a legitimate right to access materials that document them, from both the past and the present.
We believe that it is within our legal and ethical purview to release footage of public figures, public actions, and public events. If you believe that the materials in this collection violate your privacy or that of your organization, please contact us; we will address the issue as soon as possible and will restrict access fully until the matter is resolved. In applying these principles, we take into account not only state and federal laws related to privacy and the Society of American Archives’ Code of Ethics, but also the wishes of our communities.
With the understanding that our purpose is to both facilitate engagement with the MMP Collection and protect our communities from the potential harm of unlimited access to the collection’s materials, we have established different levels of user access to the MMP Collection: general user access for the general public, community access for community members, and research user access for researchers.
General User Access
General user access applies to a limited portion of our collections: those materials that are in the public domain and those items that have been released for public viewing through this website by PMR or by the communities to which the items belong. To access the collection, the general public—any individual or organization wanting to view the archive for any purpose—will have to register, log in, and use a password. General access excludes the downloading of files. All users who have the intention to utilize the materials that are made available here should read our policy on copyright and licensing below.
Community User Access
Community members—individuals or organizations who are predominantly represented within specific materials of the archive and who have served and/or formed part of the poor and working people that MMP centered its work on—should have continued open access to such materials. They should also be able to download them for their personal or organizational collections as desired. If you believe you or your organization should have open access to part of the archive, please contact us!
Research User Access
Researchers—any individual or organization interested in investigating the archive for scholarly or educational purposes—may be able to obtain research-level access through the permission of the People’s Media Record. Research access includes general access as well as the possibility of open access to particular materials related to the researcher’s investigation. Research access will be limited to those objects that are pertinent to the investigation; this type of access has a limited duration. If you are interested in obtaining research access, please contact us explaining why, we will do our best to assist you.
Content Access levels are set based on the nature of the individual items or collections. PMR has three levels of content access: open, selected, and private. Open is for materials that document public figures or events and were created by MMP for the general public; selected is for materials that document private individuals or events or that record internal aspects of the organization; private is for materials with highly sensitive information or copyright protections.
Open Content Access
Open content access is set for materials that document public figures or events and were created by MMP for public consumption. Public figures include government officials and proceedings , celebrities, heads of major corporations, and other individuals that have had power or influence at the national or local level. Public events refer to any event that is open for the general public on private or public property. There also might be cases where private individuals have requested that recordings in which they appear be classified as open access.
For instance, the video 09_00506_attack on workers-Budget Forum-H.264.mov is identified as open content access because it shows a local public official, former Mayor Michael Nutter, performing a public action, announcing the new city budget, in City Hall. In the case of 06_00047_security.mov, which consists of interviews with university security guards about labor issues, the video is open content access because, even though the guards are not public figures or officials, MMP created it to be consumed by the general public, in agreement with the interviewees.
These materials and their metadata are made fully available through the PMR website (for more on metadata, see our Metadata Overview). As the repository for MMP content, PMR holds the copyright for these materials, which are available for noncommercial use as well as public viewing on the PMR website. Licensing for commercial use is also available.
Selected Content Access
Selected content access is used for materials created by MMP that document private individuals or events, internal organizational meetings, or interviews created for organizing or relationship building. Although many of these materials capture public events, they may also include private individuals who may not have consented to being showcased openly in our archive.
For instance, the content of 06_00045_life of a cabbie.mov, which shows footage of taxi drivers striking against GPS installed in their cabs, refers to a public event, but it also includes private individuals whose voices have been recorded, not necessarily under consent for inclusion into a public archive.
Metadata from these materials is available on the website (with the exception of fields that violate individual privacy). As the repository for MMP content, PMR holds the copyright for these materials. Access to the materials is subject to affirmative consent by depicted communities and/or the discretion of PMR staff and advisors. Access may be made available to individual and community subjects from the materials. Researchers and organizers may also request access to collections, which will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
Private Content Access
Private content access is set for materials that contain highly sensitive information or are otherwise inappropriate for sharing and are held privately within the PMR asset management system. Aside from phone numbers, social security numbers, home addresses, highly sensitive information may include full names, political affiliations or opinions, trade union membership, sexual orientation, immigration status, and other politically vulnerable indicators. Privacy is determined in dialogue with PMR advisors and the individuals that appear in the materials.
Metadata for these materials is not made available on the website and the materials are reserved for access by PMR staff and original contributors.
Copyright and Licensing
Following our intent to facilitate access to our collections, PMR believes that the copyright principle of fair use is essential. In agreement with this principle, folks can use copyrighted materials if the goal is to generate critical discussion and learning. The collection materials that we make accessible through this website are offered strictly for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The only exception is when a licensing agreement explicitly enables the use of such materials for other purposes.
In advancing our dual goal of encouraging the use of our collection and safeguarding our communities from the risks of unlimited access, we are committed to ensuring the cataloging information–or metadata– created by MMP/PMR staff and volunteers is made as broadly available as possible while making sure that personal or sensitive information, such as videographer names, is not publicly released.
The metadata that we make publicly available is not subject to copyright restrictions in the United States, following federal copyright law. To the extent that there may be any copyright limitations outside the United States, the metadata is covered by a Creative Commons Zero Public Domain Dedication, which establishes that users can use the metadata for any use without attribution. However, we do believe that it is important to recognize contributions from the data provider that holds the shared information. We therefore encourage users not only to keep the Creative Commons Zero license for other users, but also to give attribution to PMR when sharing collection metadata.
Collection users should make note of any copyright information included in the records for the materials available here. If users wish to use these materials, even when there is no identified copyright, they are responsible for determining whether their use would qualify as fair use, noncommercial, or whether they need to secure permissions from copyright holders.
We would like to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified in this collection so we can make the necessary corrections. If any material here is found to violate copyright law, PMR will notify the contributor and we will take down the material immediately.
We offer licensing for both noncommercial and commercial use for materials that do not have any copyright barriers and do not contain any highly sensitive information. Licensing is evaluated case by case and depends on the intended use. Through the following form, users should list the record IDs for requested content (for example, 10_01169 is the ID for the following video) and briefly explain the intended use of the materials and how they would be distributed. PMR staff are more than happy to orient users in this process, so reach out to us when in doubt.
For noncommercial purposes, we accept sliding-scale donations and for commercial usage we have a set cost.
In building these policies, PMR looked at a wide range of references and archives. In particular, we were inspired the policies of the Digital Transgender Archive, African Activist Archives, Open Up! LGBT History Out of the Closet, and May Day Rooms Archive. We were also assisted by the book Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for Digitization for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, by Peter B. Hirtle, Emily Hudson, and Andrew T. Kenyon, the Society of American Archives’ Code of Ethics, the standardized rights statements created by the rightsstatements.org consortium, Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid and Ben Zion Lahav’s article “Public Interest vs. Private Lives: Affording Public Figures Privacy in the Digital Era,” and Victoria Anne Royal’s M.A. thesis “If I am Not for Myself, Who is for Me?” An Examination of Legal and Ethical Considerations Concerning LGBTQ+ Populations and Collections in Museums.” Last but not least, we have greatly benefited from the insights of the PMR Community Advisory Board.