Center for American Progress

: Public Briefing: The Smithsonian/ Showtime Controversy
Past Event

Public Briefing: The Smithsonian/ Showtime Controversy

12:00 AM - 11:59 PM EDT

Public Briefing: The Smithsonian/Showtime Controversy

Featured Speakers will include:
Ken Burns, Award-winning documentary filmmaker
Carl Malamud, Senior Fellow and Chief Technology Officer at the Center for American Progress

The Smithsonian Institution’s recent agreement with Showtime Networks to create a joint venture called Smithsonian Networks has raised enormous concern among filmmakers, historians, librarians, and others worried about public access to the nation’s premier collection of historical archives. The new joint venture has right of first refusal on any films that make more than “incidental” use of the Smithsonian collections or for interviews with Smithsonian staff. The Smithsonian Institution has refused to disclose the terms of this contract, which has prompted a formal Freedom of Information Act request.

This major change in policy has the potential to change how access to our collective heritage will be managed in the future.



Note: All video provided in  QuickTime (MPEG-4)  format.

For more information about the Showtime/Smithsonian controversy:

Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Program: 12:30 P.M.- 1:30 P.M.
Lunch will be served at 12:00 PM
Admission is free

Center for American Progress
1333 H Street NW, 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
Map and Directions

Nearest Metro: Blue/OrangeLine to McPherson Square or Red Line to Metro Center


Ken Burns has been making documentary films for more than 20 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The historian Stephen Ambrose has said of Ken’s films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” Burns’ films have garnered many awards including Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Peabody Awards, People’s Choice Award, CINE Golden Eagle Award, Clarion Award, duPont-Columbia Award and the D.W. Griffiths Award, among dozens of others. Ken was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1953. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1975 and went on to be one of the co-founders of Florentine Films. He resides in Walpole, New Hampshire.

Carl Malamud  is a Senior Fellow and the Chief Technology Officer at the Center for American Progress. A long-time advocate for free public access to government data, he was instrumental in putting the SEC’s EDGAR and U.S. Patent databases on the Internet. Carl founded the Internet Multicasting Service, which created the first radio station on the Internet and organized the Internet 1996 World Exposition, a world’s fair that attracted participants from 70 countries.