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Oz national broadcaster goes open with archives

Releases historical snippets under CC license

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While national digital archiving strategies in Australia move slowly, some agencies are taking things into their own hands. The latest is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which has put slabs of archival material under a Wikimedia license.

The move is part of the ABC’s 80th anniversary celebration, centered around its 80 Days that Changed our Lives website, and which contains some of the archival material now released under the Creative Commons license.

One gem among the releases is a 1974 clip in which Arthur C Clarke predicts home computers connected to world-wide networks – what we think of as the Internet. He tells the ABC Perspectives reporter, in a program called C for Computer, that his 9-year-old son (brought along for the interview) will, by 2001, take this kind of computer network “as much for granted as we take the telephone”.

The ABC says its decision will support “the work of creative producers … making some of its unique content available to a broader audience with a license that explicitly allows remix and commercial use”.

Obliquely, the ABCs archive release also highlights an emerging concern in the digital era – while library deposit schemes around the world have served to maintain print archives, audio/visual and digital materials are served badly.

It’s an issue that the Australia is currently working through with proposals for legal deposit of digital material. Earlier this month, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon launched a discussion paper on digital legal deposit, with comments open until April 14.

Australia’s National Archives is also working on a digital continuity strategy to address a similar problem. Its plan is designed to help federal government agencies determine the lifetime, management, accessibility and authenticity of digital information. Similar strategies are at various levels of development at a state level. ®

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