Open Video Conference – Audiovisual Archive BoF introduction

How can archives become a key node in the consumption of media in the changing media landscape?

Audiovisual archives across the globe are engaged in large-scale migration programmes. An important driver behind the investments related to these programmes is the physical state of the analogue carriers; the films, the tapes, the optical discs and so on. Migration is a way to preserve the information on these physical carriers and securing access for future generations, a key mission of these institutions.

Migration also opens the door to the establishment of the networked archive; where material can be made available online to an infinitely large audience. Different services can be built with this ever-growing resource, such as specialized services for education, video on demand, and access through portals such as YouTube and Also, as viewing has shifted away from television and onto the Internet, the public interest in access to archive resources online has exploded.

Some collection owners go a step further and allow their material to be downloaded so everyone can truly engage with the material and use it as building blocks for new productions. Back in 2003, the BBC coined the term “the creative archive” and entities across the globe are bringing this concept to life. is another one of the leading examples. An ever-growing collection of over 250 thousand videos can be downloaded in multiple qualities (and formats) for free. The videos in the collection contributed by Prelinger Archives have been used by a lot of people. To give an idea of the impact: almost 800 videos on YouTube have been tagged with the words “Prelinger Archives”. This is just a tip of the iceberg. Dozens of initiatives and thousands of individuals are distributing content in the same spirit.
Audiovisual archives are in the unique ability to provide their holdings in a meaningful context and also provide users with provenance. Historically, they are cooperating with researchers and other institutional players such as libraries, archives and museums. Quite often, archives are part of production companies and are also in direct dialogue with production departments. As more and more broadcasters switch to digital distribution, data is ingested in the multimedia catalogues in born digital form. Archives have become a key-node in media production. But can archives also become a key node in the consumption of media in the changing media landscape were professionals and non professionals create an abundance of media? As referenced many times, every minute, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube…

Belgian Scholar Stoffel Debuysere summarizes this importance of this question as follows:
“Media like Internet and digital television cannot and must not be reduced to a global archive, a static tomb for data, audio and video. It is up to those who assemble the content, the broadcast networks, the centers for video and media art, the libraries and museums, to create their own networked context within the abundance of content, in order to provide a valuable framework for education, communication and interaction, in order to build virtual spaces as seedbeds for the exploration of digital audiovisual languages and forms.” (source)

In this session we would like to focus on a couple of key questions that we find influence how successful the networked archive will be in establishing themselves as a key node in media consumption; and how memory institutions will continue to serve as care keepers and storytellers of our mediated past. This is also a call for action. We will record your feedback and broadcast your ideas widely, notably on the Open Video Alliance website and the website of the COMMUNIA network.
This session will address two topics in particular:

The first is related to access and licenses. In the case of, many videos are in the public domain. But in many cases, holdings are still copyrighted. Creative Commons is a suitable model also to distribute heritage content. But what are the incentives for memory institutions and public broadcasters to adopt open licenses? And how can archives support such a transition? Is there a moral obligation for memory institutions and public broadcasters to provide open access?

The second  is related to business models. In providing different access routes, we might ask how free access and traditional revenue streams (i.e. footage sales) can coincide in a new economic eco-system for broadcasters? Can access fund preservation? Should it? When do producers have an interest in ensuring long term access to the materials they create? (e.g. PBS in the US has an educational mission, the more people see it, the better PBS is doing its job)

We will start this session with four short case-descriptions.

  1. First of all, Moeed Ahmad from Al Jazeera, first independent Arabic news channel in the world. He will mainly talk about the Al Jazeera’s Creative Commons Repository launched earlier this year.
  2. Our second speaker is my colleague Maarten Brinkerink. He will talk about the Open Images project that will make a large corpus of audiovisual heritage available under a Creative Commons license.
  3. Our third speaker, Nan Rubin of CHANNEL13 is project director of the Preserving Digital Public Television project, funded by the Library of Congress. One of the aims of this project is to secure investments in digital preservation in order exploit public broadcasting well into the future. Today, she will mainly talk about the American Archive project.
  4. Sara Chapman is Executive Director of the Media Burn Independent Video Archive, an online repository for four decades of nonfiction video work by independent producers. She will focus on the ways in which her organization has broadened their strategies for making online video accessible to a wide audience.

This session will be moderated by Paul Keller. Paul works for the Amsterdam-based think-tank Knowledgeland and he is also Public Project Lead for Creative Commons Netherlands.

(Johan Oomen – NYC – June 2009)

3 Responses to “Open Video Conference – Audiovisual Archive BoF introduction”

  1. Open Images » blog archive » Exclusive Preview at the Open Video Conference Says:

    [...] You can read our introduction here. [...]

  2. Bernie Peon Says:

    Great web video! I was just wondering if you used avid media composer? Great work!

  3. Johan Oomen Says:

    It was made using Adobe Premiere. Hope this helps!

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