The BBC has moved a step closer to establishing a ‘public domain of audio-visual material’ with the launch of its ‘Creative Archive’.
The BBC, Channel 4, the British Film Institute and the Open University have teamed up to create the Creative Archive Licence, which aims to pave the way for the legal downloading of film, TV, radio archives and digital content via the Internet by the public.
The four partners in the Creative Archive Licence Group have issued a call to other organisations to join them, with Teachers’ TV and the Arts Council England already committing themselves to join the gang.
The Creative Archive Licence will give a new generation of media users legal access to material which they can use to express their creativity and share their knowledge – all completely free of charge.
The Licence follows on from pledges in the BBC’s Building Public Value document which committed the broadcaster to ‘help establish a common resource which will extend the public’s access while protecting the commercial rights of intellectual property owners.’
Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC liked the look of it: “The Creative Archive Licence provides a unique solution to one of the key challenges of rights in the digital age, allowing us to increase the public value of our archives by giving people the chance to use video and audio material for their own non-commercial purposes.”
The Creative Archive Licence offers an innovative approach to the rights issues that often affect the use of archive material, allowing people to download and use footage and audio for non-commercial purposes.
Each user will agree to abide by the licence conditions before gaining access to any of the available material.
The hope is that soon-to-be launched pilot download schemes will help fuel creativity activity across Britain, with clapperboard-toting types using the footage in personal projects, classroom presentations and their own arty-farty creations.
The long term aim is for work created under the licence to be uploaded back to the originating Website and then shared with others across the Internet.
Amanda Nevill, director of the British Film Institute, liked the cut of the project’s jib: “The Creative Archive Licence gives UK citizens increased opportunities to access and engage with moving image material from the bfi National Film and Television Archive. The project is an important step forward in enabling people to create their own works and explore the potential of digital film-making.’
The Creative Archive Licence hopes to emulate the success of the US based Creative Commons system, where less rigid copyright arrangements have stimulated artistic activity.
The BBC will initially be making footage from natural history and factual programmes available under the licence later this summer, and the BFI will be releasing a package of silent comedy, early literary adaptations, newsreel footage and archive footage of British cities in the early 20th century.
Interestingly, because the BBC is license fee funded they are releasing the content to UK-only Internet users, relying on a GeoIP solution to allow downloads from only UK hosts (not that we think it would be particularly hard for determined folks to circumvent those restrictions).