Video Hosting Solutions and The Challenges of Being Not-American

http://www.video.ca/

Much like Henry Jenkins, I think institutions trying to “recreate Youtube” is not such a great idea (though for me the biggest reason is that our various access controls and inward focus inhibit the very ‘network effects‘ that make sites like Youtube the successes they are.) But

…like my compatriot has already explained, and something those living in the US may not realize – your ‘Patriot Act‘ and the way it treats private data means that Canadian institutions (as well as ones from many other lands, ahem, economic stimulus, ahem) are either reluctant or just totally unable to use US-based services like Youtube because your government’s access to student data (even something as innocuous as an email address) violates privacy policies, either institutional, provincial or federal. So it’s not just as simple as pointing instructors at existing services like Youtube or blip.tv.

While I often think the restrictions caused by our privacy policies may be blown out of proportion and need to be tested, at the end of the day it is typically a good way to shut down conversations about, and attempts to use, these services. The alternative, for people who do see the potential of ‘Web 2.0′ tools but are outside the US, is either to a) host versions of them yourself b) form consortia of institutions to host them on a larger scale or c) look for solutions based out of the US (in places with privacy legislation conducive to our own, which ultimately usually just means – in Canada). I work for a province-wide outfit in BC, so solutions B and C are typically the ones I keep an eye out for, also because of any of these options, they have the best chance of being large and open enough to enable positive network effects to occur.

The use for something like Youtube or blip.tv (meaning something that allows – individual user self-contributions; wide range of uploadable codecs are handled; web-based; streams the results; embedabble videos; ideally with a social/interaction component; and even better, editing and annotation tools) is pretty compelling and there is increasingly a demand here (as I assume elsewhere) to come up with a wider solution.

So imagine my joy when someone pointed me to Video.ca, a seemingly (you gotta verify these things) Canadian-based video sharing site. It joins the ranks of the following that I have come across in my searches these last few months:

  • CCHost, an open source package originally developed to power the ccMixter site
  • Kaltura, another open source package, which last time I checked was being used in the wikieducator site
  • GoTuit, a commercial package but one potentially hostable in Canada, which has a fairly sweet-looking set of additional functionality for remixing and annotation
  • Netro a Vancouver Island-based company that while I don’t think have the specific technology, may be well positioned skill-wise (and geographically) for such work

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive and isn’t really based on any concerted effort, just things I’ve gather the last few months as this started to get on my radar. And I am NOT an expert in this field. But following the philosophy of “share early, share often,” I thought I’d throw it out there, in case it was helpful to others, in case you had others to add, or in case (it wouldn;t be the first time) I am totally off-base here and looking for solutions to problems that don’t exist. So please, let me know if, understand the issue outlined abouve, you have some other ideas we should look at. – SWL

16 thoughts on “Video Hosting Solutions and The Challenges of Being Not-American

  1. Gerry

    I think we really need clarification of this. The K-12 people in BC have been discussing this issue as well.

    I think it is pretty clear that the institution can’t provide student info to YouTube, but are we OK or not OK if students create their own YouTube accounts and use them for a course? I believe that Thompson Rivers University got a legal opinion on this related to some courses I am working on. I will see if I can find out more of the details.

  2. Scott

    Gerry, please *do* find out about that ruling. BCcampus sponsored a report that VIU is creating that will weigh in on this issue that I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting (I think it’s due soon) but many times I have also urged people who have had rulings on this (especially here in BC) to share that with others, as from my perspective there’s actually a pretty big diversity of legal opinions on what BC FOI/POP prohibits in regards specifically to US hosting services and the Patriot Act issue. I read a ruling way back by the BC Privacy commissioner that seemed to me to be saying a certain amount of hosting was ok, so long as certain private details weren’t crossing the border, but I’m not a lawyer and have had peope in institutions flat out dispute this. I’m hoping that a) we can make this a more rational and informed discussion and b) we can explore options that even beyond this privacy considerations may make sense anyways, from other perspectives. So please, do share.

  3. Lanny Arvan

    I’m not sure we’re less regulated regarding student created Video on YouTube for a course work. Also, it should be noted that YouTube is not part of Google Apps for Education while in the Micrsoft competitor one can share videos through SkyDrive, which does seem to be part of their live.edu offering. The point being that if you contract for email hosting, maybe you address some of these privacy issues. But otherwise, I think this is still wide open.

  4. Scott

    Lanny, you certainly may face regs, but trust me, ours our extra simply because many of the services we’d like to use are in the US but are off limits even if otherwise they’d meet FOI/POP regs. Same goes with email. Same goes with photos. With wikis. with…

  5. Brad Jensen

    I’m a little confused. If you don’t allow a web application user to provide his, her, or its password, how do you a) validate them and b) send them their login info when they forget?

    Is this only for people of a certain age? The usa has that also, restricting web use in some cases to those 13 years of age and older.

    So is this edtechpost site out of compliance, since it required my email address for me to post a comment? How do you know I am not a student?

    I am not trolling here, I am really trying to understand this.

  6. Scott

    Bard, wha? BC Privacy regulations state that BC public institutions (including all schools and public post-secondary institutions) are not allowed to store sensitive data on servers either located in the US or controlled by US companies, who would be subject to the Patriot Act (meaning a foreign govternment could compel that company to give up info on Canadian users.) Most provinces (and many other countries) have similar considerations.

    Many BC institutions are interpreting ‘sensitive data’ to include email addresses and possibly just names. So to the extent that having an account on Youtube (or any other US-based service) requires a student to provide an email address or personal info, we can’t use them in the context of higher ed. Hence the concern that motivated this post.

    Edtechpost is a) my *personal* blog, not run by a public institution, not subject to FOI/POP regs and b) is in Canada anyways, so not subject to the Patriot act (I’m sure the Canadian security services could compel me to give them up, but they could do that to anyone for the right reason).

    I *am* trusting that this isn’t a troll, but not sure I am getting what you’re not getting. Hope this helps, Scott

  7. Brad Jensen

    No, I didn’t understand the law you were referring to.

    So for reciprocity’s sake I should go to my Congressman and ask him to introduce a law that says US public institutions should not be allowed to store personal or sensitive data outside the USA since the government of wherever it is located can appropriate the information according to that location’s laws?

    I guess we could end up with a Canadanet and a USAnet and a ChinaNet — I don’t like where this is going.

    I think I would rather be a citizen of the Internet than either of these two places.

    It does rather beg the question of whether certain people in certain places are already reading what is on certain servers, either by direct access, or as the data is transferred through networks.

    No, I am not trying to pick a fight, or even criticise the law. Canada’s law is Canada’s business.

    I think someday it will be illegal to restrict information access by any person in the world, and people who attempt to do so, whether they use government as an excuse or not, will be prevented from doing so. (I have a dream.)

    And it will be a far, far better world – but a little more turbulent at first until people get used to it.

    I am for freedom of speech and privacy, but a part of me still wishes the FBI had read that PC hard drive and prevented 9/11 from ever happening.

    Youtube is really a fairly simple application, you should be able to do a homegrown clone pretty easily – it might be harder getting your students to use it.

  8. Scott Mc

    Oh yes the evil patriot act… we should block google on campus then pretty sure they are mining more than your email. also Visa should be banned…

    More concerning than the Patriot Act I often wonder how many of these Web 2.0 video sites will be around in a year a two. Reason why I don’t really recommend anything besides YouTube .

    You forgot the new WordPress Video Framework looks very promising WordPress.tv is proof of this. Could be a quick way for campuses to get their own system rolling and they could archive their own files…

  9. Scott

    Scott MC – fair enough (about sites disappearing), I agree, it is one of the dangers of using free 3rd party solutions and one we need to balance against what I started off describing by reference to Jenkins, the reasons for using larger, public sites. The flip side, continuing to use only on-campus systems, seems not tenable, both from the perspective over oover-extended IT departments, but also again because they have these articial limits that make them ultimately less useful and less used.

    But thanks for the tip on the WordPress Video Framework, deinitely another one to add to the list, open source and based on my favourite software. So nice one! Thanks!

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  12. Denver Gingerich

    Unfortunately, http://video.ca/ is *not* located in Canada. You can verify this by finding its IP address (209.40.200.35):

    http://www.tracert.com/resolve_exe.html?arg=video.ca (using http://www.tracert.com/resolver.html )

    Then enter that address into an IP geolocator or other IP whois tool:

    http://www.ip2location.com/209.40.200.35
    http://tools.whois.net/index.php?fuseaction=whois.whoisbyipresults&host=209.40.200.35

    From these it seems that http://video.ca/ is hosted by Spry Hosting on servers located in Seattle, Washington. This is most likely where the user data is stored, too.

    In the future, I recommend using these tools to verify where a web site is hosted. This can avoid a lot of informational mistakes.

    If you do happen to find a video hosting site located in Canada, I’d be interested in knowing about it.

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