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  • Open Access to NCT Final Rounds

    It's my opinion that making NCT final rounds publicly posted (on YouTube or otherwise) is a clearly good idea, for four main reasons.

    1) The current state of things gives longer-running programs a leg up
    Longer-running programs usually have access to high quality round footage, whether in the NCT final round or otherwise. Particularly for new members, studying footage of high quality rounds is easily the best way to improve. From experience within my program, which was founded recently, I can say that the biggest turning point in becoming realistically competitive was when we purchased a couple of past year final round videos. Not only does HQ round footage show teams what highly competitive rounds look like, but it provides access to common themes, turns of phrase, and the like (e.g. "follow the _," "## million reasons," "what if I told you...," "when my client walked into the courtroom s/he was presumed innocent" explanations of burdens of proof, the list goes on and on). To more established teams, and particularly those with experienced coaches, this body of tropes and mock trial tradition is automatic, but it simply is not for newer programs. Further, since the final rounds are live-streamed anyways, many programs just have someone screencast the video as it's happening and it becomes available for study in future years (having the final round live-streamed and then charging for it later is also mildly contradictory on its own). Even if programs don't have all the prior NCT final round footage, they have a much larger body of film to draw on. Particularly in light of the recent debate regarding the proposal to restrict the NCT to 1 team per school, there is a clear desire to equalize the field for less established programs. That proposal might provide extra experience for the handful of programs that wouldn't have made it past ORCS, but it wouldn't do that for the 300+ schools that don't. As opposed to that proposal, publicizing final round videos wouldn't be artificially giving less competitive programs an advantage, it would just be ensuring that motivated students from all programs have similar access to educational resources.

    2) The current system poses real barriers
    While it may be easy to say that all programs need to do is pay $40 for footage of a good round, that ignores the reality. I can say personally in my program we truly did not know how important it was get that footage, we didn't have it at all for our first year, and we only ended up getting a couple of rounds when one of our members personally paid for them. Additionally, selling them in CD format is unappealing; it creates another minor barrier that prevents teams from seeing them as worth purchasing -- on the computer I'm typing this on right now, I don't have a CD player. Further, it's not as if all rounds are equally valuable and getting one is the same as having access to all. The quality of the rounds varies wildly and as is teams currently have little way of knowing which one is worth buying. That adds additional reasons for hesitation and uncertainty. Additionally, for each year specific rounds are particularly valuable. As an example, next year's case relates to kidnapping. The last kidnapping case was State v. Tyler Perry and having that specific round video will be particularly useful. Overall it's important have access to as many rounds as possible for study, and asking newer teams to pay $315 to have access to the same body of final round videos as other teams in the AMTA community isn't reasonable.

    3) It would solely serve an educational purpose
    This is self-explanatory; these are past year case videos and provide no unfair scouting concerns.

    4) NCT Final Round sales are not a justifiably high source of revenue
    Even if every year every single school purchased last year's NCT final round, that would amount to $14k (350*40). I am not acquainted with the specific figures but I imagine that that is in truth far higher than the actual amount of revenue being brought in from these videos annually. That's less than the cumulative subsidy and stipend provided to two ORCS hosts. It's nowhere near enough money to justify hundreds if not thousands of students not studying and learning from past year's competitors.

    This was not addressed in the board meeting agenda, and I am not aware as to whether it has been discussed in prior years. I am interested to see what the Perjuries community thinks about this so please comment if there's something I'm not considering or you have other thoughts.

  • #2
    To be fair to AMTA, they have made two of their previous final rounds public for everyone on Youtube:

    Links here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB1XmNwWbq4, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR1cxIKM6Ec

    As someone who is also from a small program trying to make the next step, the rounds I've purchased and studied over this summer have been a tremendous help to me personally, beyond the educational value of the two rounds already released on Youtube. This is why I'd personally like to see more rounds released to the public, particularly more recent rounds, as you can see how much the competition has improved from the 2001 Round all the way to last year's National Championship.

    But clearly there is some type of significant profit being made off it or I have no doubt they would have already made them public like most high school and law school level competitions. So I don't think we'll see the end of the monetization of final round videos any time soon.

    In essence I agree with your point, and do wish more schools had access to these videos, but I think as long as some profit can be made (no matter how small in the grand scheme of AMTA's budget) they'll keep them restricted to online purchase.

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    • #3
      all the nats videos are already public if you know where to look
      things are really heating up in the lawyer impersonation fandom

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      • #4
        ​​​​@Zephaniah, if that is the case, I think it goes even further to Mocktropicaíís first point. If teams that already know where to look can access the final round for free, it seems like paying for it only applies to the newer, younger teams who desperately need them, and older, established teams donít have to pay for it. I donít really think itís fair to ask AMTA to make DVDs free to all, but I think that they should post them to YouTube or other viewing sites and have a link on their website. Or it least they should be willing to send it to new programs/have the mentor ship committee distribute some DVDs to younger programs who seem like they need more guidance.

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        • #5
          Adevans : Not quite clear where you're getting the idea that older/stronger teams have an advantage when it comes to using a search engine.

          I really think we're missing the crux of the issue here. The structural barriers this post is talking about are:

          - having to pay $15-40/video, for a grand total of $230 if you want to buy every video since '14 (really $200 because '14 is the easiest to find)
          - somehow not being able to have one person tune in and record when AMTA streams the final for free
          - not being able to search YouTube/Vimeo/etc. for unlisted/"leaked" finals footage
          - not being able to dig up the (easily available) almost-equivalent high-quality top round footage (e.g., https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB9...W8-FsLkFpjSyhQ)

          The reality is that a single sufficiently-motivated person could easily solve this problem for a given school. Even the worst-case barrier of a few hundred dollars is actually not that large an amount of money for an organization to raise with just 2-3 people supplying labor for a fundraiser. This isn't the real structural barrier behind mock trial being a mostly inaccessible and conservative event, one where mostly the same organizations stay at the top, the growing competitor pool is treated mostly as a stress on the system, and AMTA's design artificially advantages coached teams (even at the very top- you interviewed Bayes and know that even Yale gets screwed here). $250 is easily within the realm of what you could, if you're time/energy-starved, get from alumni donations, even. $40/year after that? Even easier, except you won't have to actually ever cough that up if you can just convince one person to tune into the livestream. Hell, borrow/get a shitty camera (or use a phone- invitationals aren't hidebound if your opponents are cool with it) and start recording your own library. Once you know to prioritize this, you literally just need one person who cares.

          But- even by knowing about Perjuries or The Mock Review, we're already out of touch with most competitors in low-tier (i.e., non-ORCS) programs. Many of them aren't even aware of this footage existing, and the ones that are often don't even know that it's useful. Merely releasing these videos for streaming wouldn't solve the problem; it could even exacerbate the disparity. Think about other highly useful Mock content already freely available that only top/in-the-know orgs take advantage of.

          Freely releasing information is great, but that information is useless unless you also change the nature of the activity a bit and network in the weaker teams so they actually have the know-how and resourcefulness that currently forms the real structural barrier. Even mid-tier programs (TPR >100) with the money to buy these videos often fail to take advantage of them when it's arguably the single best ROI for any mock trial investment. It's because mock trial as an activity shuts most programs out from the real core of the community and keeps most of their members in a pool of ignorance.

          Mock Trial runs itself like ICC when educational activities should arguably instead run like FIFA.
          Last edited by Zephaniah; July 20th, 2019, 03:30 PM.
          things are really heating up in the lawyer impersonation fandom

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