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Monday, May 07, 2007

BBC's open archive project comes to nothing...

There was much excitement in 2003 when the BBC started to spread the word of their ground-breaking plans to open the archived footage for public use, using an open license system similar to Creative Commons.

In fact, it was at theiCommons conference and launch of Creative Commons South Africa in 2005 that I first heard of the project. The director of the project had been on a world tour of like-minded conferences spreading the word - and the word was good.

And the word was well received - having an industry giant and icon like the BBC adopting the free culture movement and essentially empowering it with years of archived footage for anyone's creative endeavours was, in several opinions, the biggest indicator that the free culture movement could and would be widely accepted.

Unfortunately, due to a massive oversight, this entire project has been scrapped as totally non-viable. According to the April 2 edition of New Statesman (yes, I know I'm a little delayed in posting this), "the BBC owned hardly any of the rights to its archive. Rather, those rights belonged to each individual actor, musician, screenwriter and sound recordist involved" !!!!!!

This is a major blow to the momentum and mainstream acceptance of the associated projects, and geeks like me are really disappointed, but mostly it's a massive loss to the creative pool - as that footage is now doomed to rot in an archive somewhere as the process of contacting all of the rights holders is just not feasible.

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