Background: Surgery is a major component of health-care provision. Operative intervention often employs minimally invasive approaches incorporating digital cameras creating a ‘digital twin’ of both intracorporeal appearances and operative performance. Video recordings provide richer detail than the traditional operative note and can couple with advanced computer technology to unlock new analytic capabilities capable of driving surgical advancement via quality improvement initiatives and new technology design. Surgical video is however an under-utilized technology resource, in part, because ownership along with broader issues including purpose, privacy, confidentiality, copyright and inclusion in outputs have been poorly considered using outdated categorisation. Method: A first principles perspective on operative video classification as a useful public interest resource enshrining fundamental stakeholder (patients, physicians, institutions, industry and society) rights, roles and responsibilities. Result: A facility of noble purpose, understandable to all, for fair, accountable, safe and transparent access to large volumes of anonymised surgical videos of intracorporeal operations that enables advances through cross-disciplinary research is proposed. Technology can be exploited to protect all relevant parties respecting both citizen data-rights and the special status doctor-patient relationship. Through general consensus, the capability can be understood, established and iterated to perfection. Conclusion: Overall we argue that new and specific classification of surgical video enables responsible curation and serves the public good better than the current model. Rather than being thought of as a bicycle where discrete ownership is ascribed, such data are better viewed as being more like a park, a regulated amenity we should preserve for better human life.