Sorry. I was too busy doing my happy dance to go back to see what Mr. Dyke actually said. Yes, he did say that the BBC would be opening up its archives. However, as someone in the rec.music.classical.recordings newsgroup points out, they don’t own the rights to everything they have. “Until BBC lawyers go through the exhaustive work of clearing the rights to redistribute the old shows online, we won’t know if the Creative Archive will include John Cleese classics or just old News 24 clips.”
Here are the actual words he spoke, so you don’t have to get it filtered through my rose-colored glasses:
Looking ahead, let me give you one example of the kind of thing the BBC will be able to do in the future.
The BBC probably has the best television library in the world. For many years we have had an obligation to make our archive available to the public, it was even in the terms of the last charter. But what have we done about it?
Well, you all know the problem. Up until now, this huge resource has remained locked up, inaccessible to the public because there hasn’t been an effective mechanism for distribution.
But the digital revolution and broadband are changing all that. For the first time, there is an easy and affordable way of making this treasure trove of BBC content available to all.
Let me explain with an easy example.
Just imagine your child comes home from school with homework to make a presentation to the class on lions, or dinosaurs, or Argentina or on the industrial revolution. He or she goes to the nearest broadband connection – in the library, the school or even at home – and logs onto the BBC library. They search for real moving pictures which would turn their project into an exciting multi-media presentation. They download them and, hey presto, they are able to use the BBC material in their presentation for free.
Now that is a dream which we will soon be able to turn into reality.
We intend to allow parts of our programmes, where we own the rights, to be available to anyone in the UK to download so long as they don’t use them for commercial purposes. Under a simple licensing system, we will allow users to adapt BBC content for their own use. We are calling this the BBC Creative Archive. When complete, the BBC will have taken a massive step forward in opening our content to all – be they young or old, rich or poor. But then it’s not really our content – the people of Britain have paid for it and our role should be to help them use it.
So, basically, the intention is to give access to as much archival material as it owns to BBC subscribers (those who pay the license fee). This may include all those wonderful BBC shows. Or not. I’ve seen articles and quotes both positive and negative. But for now, I’m doing my best Emily Litella.