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Wednesday 3 May 2006

The BBC, public participation and ‘user generated’ content

How serious is the BBC about public participation and user-generated content? Not very serious, I would say…

The BBC has always looked on the public as material to be used in its programmes and now it looks on photographs and videos that come from that public as material to be used in its programmes. So not much change…

The old joke is that the official BBC tie has small checks (cheques). But, for many people these days, the BBC means no cheques…

My experience, as a former magazine writer/photographer and now web developer, is that the Corporation is always on the look out for free content. I’m tired of producers and researchers asking to use my photographs for free. There’s never any money. With a remit to encourage creativity and promote culture in Britain, the BBC is the last organisation that should be doing this.

Then there’s the raw deal that independent TV production companies have experienced over the years… If this is the BBC’s attitude to fellow professionals, then pardon me for being just a little bit cynical about the Beeb’s enthusiasm for material from the public.

READ THE SMALL PRINT

Before you supply any photos or videos, as a member of the public, read the terms. You’re giving the BBC:

‘a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide. This may include the transmission of the material by our overseas partners’

In the case of video, it says they may not even be able to credit you. Wonderful — no payment and not even a name-check either. Isn’t there some European law that entitles everyone to be identified as the author of his or her work?

I hope the public will wake up to this soon. I believe that the companies that deal unfairly now will pay later once people get over the novelty of seeing their video on screen and realise that they have been ‘used’.

It really pays to keep people happy these days. The video blogger or photographer who has a good experience of providing footage to a company, may continue to do so for years to come. But leave someone with a bad taste in their mouth and there will be no more material from that source in the future.

Guess which of these is the best business model?

UPDATE: LoadedPun has the story of a video blogger who helped CNN make a report for TV but then was told he would have to pay $1000 if he wanted to include the final video on his blog. In fact, so far, he hasn’t even been able to see the report!

Maybe this guy will think twice before getting involved with CNN again? Piss off enough videobloggers, who then tell everyone else, and soon no one will want to work with CNN. It seems that yet another big media company hasn’t quite woken up to the way things are changing?

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