The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the national public broadcaster, turns 80 this year. To celebrate it has launched a new website called “80 Days That Changed Our Lives“, giving 80 pieces of audio visual content from the ABC archives a new lease on life. Today, the ABC has also announced that it has gone a step further by releasing some of these historical news reports to Wikimedia under a Creative Commons free license. This release of highly encyclopedic audiovisual history is not only a first for Australia, it is a first for Wikimedia.
While this is the first collection of broadcast “packaged” footage released to Wikimedia Commons under a free license, the leader in the field for several years has been Al Jazeera, which has been sharing some of its contemporary footage on its own Creative Commons portal. With the Open Beelden project, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision has also shared online many historical newsreels. Both of these collections have since been copied into Wikimedia Commons. The ABC is also following in the footsteps of Radio y Televisión Argentina, which has previously released some of its archival recordings and parliamentary speeches.
You can view the collection of files on Wikimedia Commons — all are available to be used, remixed and shared — at Category: Files from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Some of the important pieces of Australian history that now have freely licensed multimedia for the first time include:
- The “Tampa affair” (2001)
- The “Waterfront dispute” (1998)
- The release of Lindy Chaimberlain from prison (1986)
- The floating of the currency (1983)
- The introduction of World Series Cricket (1977)
- Intriguingly, an interview with Arthur C. Clarke predicting the Internet in 1974.
- and, the first ever broadcast from ABC Television (1956).
You can check where these files are already being used within Wikipedia articles on the toolserver project. You can also read the press release by the ABC about this project and the blog post by Creative Commons Australia (which is hosted by CCi).
As a non-profit operated collection of educational and freely-licensed media, and as the repository that serves the 283 language editions of Wikipedia, we believe that Wikimedia Commons is a perfect place for broadcasters and other GLAMs to share their archival content. Hopefully this release from the Australian public broadcaster will be the beginning of an ongoing relationship with the Wikimedia projects and the Wikimedia community, and will encourage other broadcasters – especially those that are publicly funded – to join us.
Liam Wyatt / Wittylama – Project officer, ARC Centre of Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation (CCi)