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BBC Digital Revolution rushes for you to download and edit

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Dan Gluckman - Product Lead | 16:51 UK time, Monday, 5 October 2009

Since the very first blog post about Digital Revolution, we've been promising to release some rushes sequences before the programme is broadcast  - rushes that you can download, edit and republish under a permissive licence. And now we're ready to post the first of these.

What can you do with these rushes? Whatever you want, subject to the terms of the license. Let us what you're up to, as we'll be featuring the best uses of the rushes very week.

Once we have more rushes up, we'll also be setting some specific challenges - watch this space, or sign up to our Twitter @BBCDigRev for updates.

Releasing rushes like this is an experiment, and there are some limitations. We're not releasing all our rushes, for two reasons. Firstly, we have a compliance procedure at the BBC which means that all online video has to be viewed by a senior manager - there's simply too much footage to do this properly. We do estimate that we will be releasing around 5 hours of interview material, featuring 20-30 interviewees, and up to an hour of other content.

Secondly, it's the nature of an interview that some parts don't really work, and would always hit the cutting room floor very early. Our series producer, Russell Barnes, has selected the key parts of each interview to post first. If there's a strong demand for more rushes from particular interviewees, then we'll certainly try to do that.

The rushes are released under an international permissive licence, inspired by but not identical to the Creative Commons Licence. It covers some elements not covered by that licence - for example, you're not allowed to use the footage to suggest the BBC's endorsement or on websites aimed at young children.

We're releasing the rushes sequences in the .mov format - exporting .movs gives us highest quality for a reasonably sized file, with the least compression . Please do feed back to us if you think there is a strong case for also providing a different format.

This is an experiment, so we welcome your feedback - please do let us know what you think by commenting here or by contacting us direct.


  • Comment number 1.

    Some interesting comments have been arriving through Twitter to @bbcdigrev regards the Digital Revolution licence described above.

    It began with a question raised by @Moltke: Is it wrong for BBC to call @BBCDigRev documentary "open source" when their licence is more restrictive than any CC licence?

    I retweeted this, as I felt it's a reasonable question, and wondered what others might think.

    @nevali replied with @BBCDigRev possibly, yes. It’s a “shared source” licence, really: look, but only touch if you’re in the right group doing the right things.

    While @myatu offered an alternative view: @BBCDigRev @moltke I find BBC's licensing more like he Apache licence. Share & edit but don't misrepresent its origin. open src 2 me.

    Which is where I realised we were in a slightly blurred area with this line of debate. The issue of our 'open source' production seems to be being held to account on the strength (or weakness, depending on your point of view) of the permissive licence the BBC have created specifically for Digital Revolution to allow us to share the series rushes with users for download and re-use (see above blog). I think we've been open from the beginning of the production in July with the blog, Delicious, Flickr, Twitter - the rushes downloads (and licence) are just another aspect of the whole package.

    The debate continued, mainly with comments from @nevali and @moltke around the licence, so I posted a link to this blog to hopefully clarify why we didn't use a Creative Commons licence and created a BBC version for our purposes. The key lines to note above (in this context of 'why not Creative Commons?') are:

    The rushes are released under an international permissive licence, inspired by but not identical to the Creative Commons Licence. It covers some elements not covered by that licence - for example, you're not allowed to use the footage to suggest the BBC's endorsement or on websites aimed at young children.

    It began to feel like the questions raised on Twitter were not going to be best answered on Twitter. So I've started this comment thread on the blog about the rushes, the licence, and our open source-ness in the hope that any thoughts and debate may be given a better chance to express themselves.

    Many thanks,

  • Comment number 2.

    I shouldn't have used the Apache License as an example, but therein lies the problem. There are numerous open source licenses out there, some more restrictive than others. But many of them are hard to fully understand due to the legal terminology.

    You *think* you understand them completely, but then there's always some clause or exception that could be interpreted differently and you might actually be in violation of the license.

    The Create Commons (https://creativecommons.org/about/licenses%29 has made a good attempt to simplify open source licenses, by breaking them down into 4 logical "blocks".

    It also took the time to go through a number of existing licenses and gave them their CC-equivalents (in other words: "This license basically says you can..." + one or more of the 4 basic "blocks").

    Now, the BBC's permissive license appears to be straight forward. But as with the other (non CC) licenses, things might get lost in the forest of legal terminology. Neither is there a CC equivalence with those 4 basic "blocks", because of the fact you cannot claim endorsement by the BBC or use the derivative work on websites aimed at young children.

    Add to this mix that there are people who simply do not have any idea about Open Source in general (I had to explain this to a friendly lady at the DMS Watson, while we were waiting to start the CIBER test). So if someone would like to have a go at editing rushes, where does he/she look for clarification on the BBC permissive license? The "Can I ... ?" questions, if you will.

    So perhaps something that can be done is to have a little explanation a-la Creative Commons, along with a short FAQ?

    Personally I feel that the BBC Permissive License is well within the range of reason and should be considered true open source. I can apply the same freedom/restrictions to the rushes as I am to FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) that I'm developing / assisting with.

  • Comment number 3.

    There are a couple of different issues here.

    One is that the release of the rushes is being treated as representative of the production as a whole—this is to be expected. The general expectation is that in an “open source” project, this is the basis for all (released) aspects of it.

    The fact is, the license itself is not permissive when compared to most. It’s permissive compared to the default (i.e., no rights at all), but when compared to most open source and the Creative Commons licenses, it’s quite restrictive (and, indeed, is flawed to an extent).

    “Open source” itself is quite a specific term and has a fairly well-understood meaning. Indeed, Creative Commons quite deliberately steers clear of it, because some of the CC licenses are at odds with the principles of open source.

    First, there’s the distinction between “personal”, “charitable”, “educational” and “commercial” entities. This arguably the most flawed aspect of it at all, because what constitutes “commercial use” is rarely clear. In terms of Creative Commons, the situation in this regard is so bad that the only advice is to contact the licensor to ask them what they mean.

    Second, there are the “…except these purposes…” clauses (§2.3.5). These are about about as far removed from “open source” or “creative commons” as you can get within this context. The illegality aspect is simply noise, as something that’s illegal is illegal irrespective of what the license says.

    Within this section:

    “is not open access” — what does this mean? It’s not defined anywhere.

    “might be perceived as damaging the BBC's reputation for accuracy or impartiality” — perceived by whom? “might be”?

    “is intended for or targeted at children who are under 13 years old” — why?

    The no-advertising clause (§2.3.6) — huh?

    Beyond the general craziness of this clause, what does “or otherwise commercialise the Work or Derivative Work in any way” mean?

    (Examples: I want to put it on my CV and I get a job offer as a result; I do it as a lunchtime project at work and my boss wants to put it on the company website as an example of the skillset we have)

    The “BBC Application” display clause (§2.3.8) is very unclear—given that the license includes a grant for use of the “BBC Application”, it’s not at all obvious what exactly the “sole editorial control” applies to, and in what contexts.

    Typo — “2.3” should be “2.4” (and so on).

    Sharing (§2.3) is very fuzzy. It’s not entirely clear what somebody wishing to distribute’s obligations are from reading it (it can be inferred from context, but the wording is very poor).

    Logo use (§2.5) trademark law possibly covers this anyway (rendering the clause moot), but I’m not clear on how the logo alone isn’t derivative work as specified by the rest of the license (if it’s included in the work, as indicated by §2.5). No other clause actually references the logos, so there shouldn’t be an expectation of grant-of-rights anyway.

    Indemnity (§5) — is this a joke?

    Modifications & Notifications (§7.4): you simply can’t that. It’s not Terms and Conditions for a website (plus, how would you notify people?)

    The whole thing reads as a license for three separate things (the rushes, the logos, the player) all of which have different (and slightly conflicting) terms. None of it is particularly representative “open source”, and all of it is quite restrictive.

    The only thing it honestly encourages me to do is steer well clear. I’m not willing to risk inadvertently breaching the license, no matter what assurances the production team might give (ultimately, it wouldn’t be their decision).

  • Comment number 4.

    On an utterly unrelated note from the license—A QuickTime movie (.mov) is just a container format, and contain anything from MPEG-1 to Avid DNxHD video and a similar gamut for audio.

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks for these comments - I'm pleased that you've taken the trouble to look through the licence. There are a couple of points I'd like to make. The first is that the Digital Revolution Licence shouldn't be judged as an 'open source' licence. It's an experimental permissive licence that allows for download and editing of programme rushes, before the programme is transmitted and it has to operate within the BBC's editorial and other policies. As it's an experimental licence, I really welcome your critiques - they'll be very helpful when we look at where this experiment has worked, where it hasn't, and how we might improve similar projects in the future.

    That brings me on to another point - using the word 'open source' to describe the Digital Revolution project. As I say above, we've tried to be careful not to describe this permissive licence as open source, but in some places the phrase has been attached to the whole project (although we also call it 'open and collaborative'). I think there's a debate to have about what 'open source' means, when it starts to be applied outside its traditional realm of software and licences. What is open source architecture , or open source car design? What is an open source documentary?

    If you define open source as 'practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials', then the fact we have opened up the discussion around programme ideas, used Delicious for all programme research tagging, and given access to some (but admittedly not all) of our rushes, puts us in the right space. I can assure you that having that phrase in our minds has transformed the way we've worked, and the way we communicate the project to people from a range of backgrounds, some very non-technical. The open source movement should be proud that their philosophy is starting to be felt in a wide range of disciplines. That doesn’t mean that the attempt to mash different cultures together is easy or comfortable, or that we are getting it entirely right in our first attempt here.

  • Comment number 6.

    Your last paragraph sums it up quite nicely.

    The disagreement probably stems from the purist view of what defines open source software (such as https://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php%29. In that sense, no, the BBC's permissive license would not qualify as true open source (it restricts commercial endeavours as well as a certain group of people).

    In my view, if you are given access to the raw source - be it software source code, raw film footage, unedited music clips, design plans for a house or car, barley for your micro-brew beer - and permitted to manipulate it and redistribute it, then I see that as open source. A restriction (ie., a "permissive license") does not necessarily make it a "closed source" product.

  • Comment number 7.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that open source productions are not a new thing, and so a default expectation is one of conforming with the existing use. See, for example, Elephants Dream, or Big Buck Bunny, both of which are “open source productions” (they have always been called that), and so are a pretty good bar to measure against.

  • Comment number 8.

    “A restriction (ie., a "permissive license") does not necessarily make it a "closed source" product.”

    No, it doesn’t make it “closed source”, but it doesn’t necessarily make it “open source” either.

    There’s a (relatively broad) class of things which fall into a middle-ground: they’re not “open source” by most commonly-held definitions, but they’re clearly not closed-source either. There are plenty of other terms one could use to describe them…

  • Comment number 9.

    If I were to use some of this footage in combination with other original footage to promote the creation of an online community would I be in breach of the liscence?
    (excuse me I'm not able for the lingo)

  • Comment number 10.

    I am a Teaching Fellow at Keele University and I run a course on web2.0, mass collaboration, citizen journalism and the rise of the professional amateur so obviously the virtual revolution programming and material has been of great interest to me and my students.

    I feel it would be interesting (and a working demonstration of these emerging communication technologies) to produce a a film introducing aspects of my course content with your rushes. Indeed, understandably many of the commentaries available are by individuals we examine in the current course (Keen, Leadbeater, Shirky and so on). I hope to edit this over the summer but it occurs to me that the process of downloading each and every interview is quite laborious. Is there no way of accessing a bulk download of the rushes?


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