Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, has announced plans to give the public full access to all the corporation's programme archives. Mr Dyke said on Sunday that everyone would in future be able to download BBC radio and TV programmes from the internet.
The service, the BBC Creative Archive, would be free and available to everyone, as long as they were not intending to use the material for commercial purposes, Mr Dyke added.
"The BBC probably has the best television library in the world," said Mr Dyke, who was speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival.
"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."
He predicted that everyone would benefit from the online archive, from people accessing the internet at home, children and adults using public libraries, to students at school and university.
Taken from BBC News web site
The full text of the speech
Now for me, this raises several issues/points.
Is such a task actually achieveable?
I presume it is, and the BBC will be able to get around objections/concerns raised by Equity/Actors unions etc re:performance fees for items broadcast online.
In addition, I assume that the BBC will only be broadcasting things it has the right to do so (programs its commissioned itself etc) and retains the rights too (so no foreign imports etc)
Technically, I am sure their plans to put this all online are possible - though it may well be quite a time consuming task to actually do so.
The scale of any such operation would be huge - just consider that the BBC launched its radio services in 1922 and the television in 1936, so we are literally talking about *decades* of material and I am sure you can imagine the scale and breadth of the material available - though sadly they won't have all of it available (some will have been lost/destroyed etc)
Offering online to broadcasters old archives has been done before - for instance PATHE has its old archives available but that is much smaller in scale.
Of course, there will be a lot of hype about this new service and until more details are released noone will know how it will operate.
However, given the way the BBC is funded I have serious doubts that it will be available to everyone globally regardless of what the news item suggests
The BBC already has a limited broadband service and are careful to limit that to UK residents based on IP address and I assume that they would do something similar for this new service - even though they do have quite an impressive network
The also insist that UK ISP's who particate in their Broadband service peer directly with them in London (keeping their costs down)
The BBC's plans also raise the question of how other media companies will react.
For instance, the BBC can do this as its a longstanding public broadcaster with a huge library - however, I can't see many other organisations being able to follow its lead (does PBS comission programs?) - though I see the Candian Broadcasting Corp. has a limited facilty at http://archives.cbc.ca/
Also, the BBC would be doing this in the UK - so the actions of the RIAA etc and the DCMA(?) Copyright acts don't apply to them but what affect would such an act have on the general situation with the way some in the media and technology industries are moving (i.e. Digital Rights Management (DRM))
Finally, before you all expect to see your favourite shows online, if you have a look at the full speech, it seems to suggest that some shows will only offer "clips" - partly for copyright reasons but probably also not to totally destroy DVD sales etc!