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June 30, 2005
Home Taping Saves Shared Culture
CPTech's Michelle Childs brings news of a BBC documentary called "Time Shift: Missing, Believed Wiped" that reveals how copyright-infringing home-tapers helped save a part of British cultural history. Explains Childs on the A2k list:
[The documentary] told the story of the beginning of TV in the UK. As tapes were expensive but content was then thought to be cheap, large numbers of now historically relevant programming was erased so they could reuse the tape. The BFI and the BBC then woke up to their loss and set up a public appeal called Treasure Hunt where they asked collectors (i.e., people who either copied thmeselves or purchased from others) to hand over copies. This has been a great success, with the BBC finding many missing programmes. However, the BBC does not pay the collectors, as what they orginally did was a breach of copyright, but do let them hang out at the BBC archive and choose a copy of something they want. Some collectors are annoyed about this, as the BBC then puts some of these clips onto DVDs and sells them.
It's interesting to note that even a national public service broadcaster could not be the sole documenter of even its own history, and it was the choice of the people who watched to record for personal use certain programming that ensured its survival.
One of the unexpected side-benefits of copyright's (traditionally) "leaky boat" -- you've got a bit of help when you need a bail-out.
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