The Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK House of Commons today released the first volume of its report, “A public BBC.” The committee, made up of eleven cross party Members of Parliament (MP), has taken evidence both written and through expert witness panels going back as far as May 2004.
The 87-page tome contains a lot of interesting and insightful comments from the MPs which are going to take a while to digest. One of the manageable chunks is on the Creative Archive and being long term supporters of it, it drew our eye.
The support from the MPs appears strong, but there’s few items that cause us confusion bordering on concern like the executive summary
7. We strongly welcome the BBC’s proposals for a Creative Archive, and agree that access to this should be free for non-commercial applications. We look to the Corporation to develop, in cooperation with intellectual property owners, innovative solutions that appropriately balance the interests of rights holders with those of the wider public. Digital rights management is a key issue in the modern media environment, and we recommend the DCMS establish a forum for assessing its implications.
We’re slightly confused as to why Digital Rights Management (DRM) is being mentioned in the same paragraph as the Creative Archive. Are these separate items that have just been mentioned in the same paragraph or is their suggestion that the Creative Archive material has DRM applied to it? One of the central ideals of the Creative Archive is the ability for the UK public to load the downloaded content into their video editing packages and create new content. How is this to be achieved if DRM is applied to the content?
Much of this may become clearer when the BBC starts a trial of the Creative Archive in January 2005 as re-announced on 24.Nov.04 by Mark Thompson, Director-General, BBC.
We’re going to be doing some more digging tomorrow to try and get some clarity on this.
Details of material about the Creative Archive
62. In Building public value, the BBC commits to launching a Creative Archive, providing “free access to BBC content for learning, for creativity, for pleasure.” The BBC’s ambition is that, starting with factual material, online access for non-commercial applications will eventually extend across all areas of its output.
63. The Electronic Frontier Foundation espouses the benefits that will accompany the establishment of the BBC’s Creative Archive, and supports its becoming a core element of BBC services. Ultimately, this could comprise the whole of the BBC’s extant archive of radio and television programming, placed online under a licence that permits non-commercial distribution and re-use of this material by “remixers”. This open licensing system is similar to that deployed by the Creative Commons initiative, a system of “some rights reserved” copyright. And it is possible that, by enabling non-commercial exploitation, there is created “a gigantic and clever series of advertisements for the commercial rights” associated with the works.
64. The Creative Archive brings to the fore what Professor John Naughton termed the “maniacal obsession” with intellectual property. In his view, the copyright industries “see digital technology as an unprecedented opportunity to extend control over how copyrighted material can be used to a degree that was inconceivable in an analogue world.”
65. In written evidence, the Music Business Forum expressed concerns that such initiatives should not be allowed to “ride rough shod over the copyrights and performers’ rights of those who contribute to BBC programmes”. There had to be provision for rights holders to be paid for the additional use of their work through access to archives. This should be the case whether in the form of repeat broadcasting fees, extensions of the collective bargaining agreements in place for the payments of revenue for secondary uses, or through the negotiation of clearance for the right to exercise new rights on individually negotiated commercial terms. The BBC ought to consider the case for the implementation of encryption and digital rights management applications in order to counter growing piracy – whether via internet or personal video recorder downloads. The MBF is concerned that while this is available free and unpoliced, commercial download services will be unable to compete and artists, writers and the other creators will have no means of getting paid. “The BBC, as a publicly-funded organisation, has a responsibility to be seen at every opportunity to be upholding the systems of rights that operate in the UK, not least to act as an example to others. The licence fee does not of itself authorise licence fee holders to the free use of BBC output in whatever way they wish.”
66. We strongly welcome the BBC’s proposals for a Creative Archive, and agree that access to this should be free for non-commercial applications. We look to the Corporation to develop, in cooperation with intellectual property owners, innovative solutions that appropriately balance the interests of rights holders with those of the wider public. Digital rights management is a key issue in the modern media environment, and we recommend the DCMS establish a forum for assessing its implications.