August 27, 2003 12:58 | Culture / Technology / URLs

BBC Creative Archive

Taped at the BBC
Can the Beeb put its entire archive on the Web?
By Paul Boutin

For those of us still debating whether to shell out the 40-odd bucks for Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection on DVD, BBC Director-General Greg Dyke may have settled the matter this weekend. At the end of his speech to an annual TV industry conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dyke announced that the Beeb plans to put its enormous TV and radio archives online and to allow anyone to download them --free-- for non-commercial use. "Under a simple licensing system, we will allow users to adapt BBC content for their own use," Dyke said. "We are calling this the BBC Creative Archive."

This is brilliant. Oh joy!
CBC, do the same! PBS, you too!


Wow. This is a rather historic step. It puts the concepts of 'creative commons' and 'open source' up a few notches. Considering that all BBC-self-produced programming is funded by those hefty television licenses, in effect the Beeb is admitting that the content is the property of the British people, and theirs to do with as they see fit (within non-commercial uses.). I remember a time when Canadian television wasn't quite so effect we also subsidize the bulk of Canadian programming through our taxes (Telefilm, the NFB, CBC, the Cable and Television Fund, SODEC, etc. etc.) Yeah, it would be quite cool if the CBC archives would be digitized and put online. Radio, too. Imagine being able to dig up some old political debates, news,etc. - and assuming programmes are closed-captioned, that text can become the 'metatags' for a powerful search engine.

Readers might be interested in the Friends of the Creative Domain project we're helping to organise, to make sure the archive lives up to its potential.

There's summary info here:

And a sign-on letter here: