The view from the BBC
Monday, April 7, 2003 by Dave Winer.
Kevin Hinde is the Head of Technical Development at BBC News Interactive.
In The Paper of Record, 4/5/03, I wondered what was up at BBC re archives.
Mr Hinde's response follows.
Our archive of stories posted on BBC News Online goes back to November 1997, when we started publishing. As far as I know, all of those stories are still available at the same URL they were originally published to. We've had a few redesigns since then, and some of the older stories have missed out on the rebranding and still look, well, old; but we hope to fix that when we get a chance. We do maintain the archive if anyone finds any inaccuracies or errors.
We also have a showcase of BBC News stories broadcast on Radio and Television since 1950.
We're looking at better ways to give people access to our archived online content so thanks for the suggestion.
As for whether you can trust us -- I hope so. I think the way we're funded (in the UK, by public subscription) means that we're more likely to be trustworthy. Our business model for news is a public service model: essentially to make good content and give it away. People in the UK have already paid for the content we produce so it's not likely we would be allowed to charge them so see it a second time.
The situation worldwide is less clear - our distribution costs outside the UK are funded by the BBC's World Service, which is in turn funded by government grants. The idea of restricting access to our content outside the UK has been discussed in the past and it's always been rejected. Of course all that could change. The BBC does make money by selling videos, DVDs and tapes of its non-news content. If it turned out there were a viable market for news archive material abroad we might choose to enter it. There isn't, and from where I sit it doesn't seem likely, that those ideas will gain much of a toehold in the future. I think the people who make the decisions understand that restricting access to the archive would be counterproductive.
Larry Lessig came to give a talk a while ago and there's some serious interest in making much more of our non-commercial archive available under some kind of Creative Commons license.
Those last two paragraphs are my views; I hope they are the same as my employer's but this is a big place.