BBC airs its first Creative Commons licensed TV show

The BBC has finally produced and aired a TV show that can be released under Creative Commons, along with the "asset bundle" of associated media that went into the final cut. The show is a pilot for a broader strategy of giving Britons the freedom to re-use the material they pay for through the "license fee," which all television owners are obliged to pay, and which funds the vast majority of the BBC's operations.

The BBC announced the move on Thursday through its Backstage Blog. For now, the experiment is extremely limited. A single program, called R&D TV, will be released for download to anyone, regardless of whether they're located in the UK or not. So far, only one episode is done, and a second is in the works; more may be made if these prove to be reasonably popular.

Episode one can be downloaded from a BBC FTP server, where Flash, Quicktime, and Ogg versions are available, either as a five minute series of excerpts or in its full, half hour glory. The blog post suggests that Windows Media versions should be made available as well but, so far, these have not materialized. The files will also be made available through YouTube and Blip.TV.

But it's not so much the ready availability of this material that makes it a bold step forward, but the license under which it's released: the Creative Commons non-commercial attribution license, v2. As the accompanying Read Me file (complete with the old-school ASCII BBC logo) says, "you can watch, rip, redistribute and remix all the contents of this package." As long as you don't try making money from the videos, you're set.

BBC airs, releases program under Creative Commons license

R&DTV: a collaborative project between BBC Backstage & RAD
(Thanks, Marilyn!)