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back to article WTF... should I pay to download BBC shows?

The outgoing Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, recently announced plans for Project Barcelona, a download store for material from the BBC archives. At the moment, you can watch most BBC programmes for seven days after broadcast, free of charge using iPlayer. In a few cases, a whole series may be available for a little …

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FAIL

Re: Eating your cake and having it there.

Good grief. I'm wondering how many times this point needs to be reiterated in the same thread. I'm going to have a wild guess at thirty times. I think we're already in double figures.

Paying for something once in one format does not mean you have a god-given right to receive it free in every other medium that exists or is yet to be invented.

I paid to see Star Wars in the cinema. It is older than most of the material the BBC is talking about making available with this new service. Should it be placed in the public domain? Should I be given the latest 3D blu ray for free? Derp derp a herp di derp derp. Herp derp?

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Linux

Some people just don't get socialism...

This isn't about paying for something produced by Hollywood at the local Tesco.

This about your government taxes paying for something and then someone else trying to make you pay for that same thing again.

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Re: Some people just don't get socialism...

See my reply here:

http://forums.reghardware.com/post/1354548

simplePointRepeatCount++;

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Megaphone

But.....

..... I paid to see a film at the cinema. Why the hell should I have to pay again to have a copy on DVD?

Oy! Sky. You want people to pay for those Pratchett stories you filmed? But they already paid a subscription. That should more than cover the cost of shiny discs for me.

Buy a live recording of a band I went to see play live? Pshaw!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But.....

The problem with that analogy is that all the Pratchett films are available for download on Anytime+. Download to Sky box and toggle the "keep" flag. Job done.

You of course are being deliberately disingenuous by introducing physical format.

Away with you.

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Re: But.....

Yes, and I bought the book on which the movie was based, so not only should I get to see it at the pictures for nowt, but I should get the DVD, the BD and the download for free too!!! And I want a gratis T-Shirt too.

Nice comment, Prof

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Re: But.....

"But... I paid to see a film at the cinema. Why the hell should I have to pay again to have a copy on DVD?"

Did you pay to PRODUCE the movie in the first place as the licence payers are with BBC programs?

Or do you think George Lucas pays for his own Star Wars DVD's?

*slaps forehead*

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Headmaster

Re: But.....

@Chet Mannly

You seem to be under the impression that TV license payers somehow own the rights to the material produced by the BBC. Is that your argument?

Could you point me at the items of UK copyright law that lead you to this impression? Because as far as I can tell it is complete and utter bunkum. The TV license is a hypothecated tax, it isn't a share ownership scheme or mutual cooperative*.

Take a different example. Many countries (including the US and the UK) have a variety of hypothecated taxes that pay for the transport infrastructure. No matter how much of that tax you pay, you don't personally own any of the asphalt. If the government decides to use the system in a different way or charge for it in a different way then you don't get a free slice. You just get to vote for or against them at the next election.

(* it might be in Cuba, say, but somehow I don't think you live in Cuba)

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Happy

Personally I don't mind...

I'd rather pay as I go for any/all content than sign up for contracts like Sky/Virgin when I don't really get value for money as I have better things to do most of the time.

That said I do think the licence fee is currently very good value, I watch a lot of BBC between live and iPlayer for the equivalent of ~£12 a month, per hour of entertainment it easily betters anything else I use to amuse myself when on the sofa. People who want the whole archive for free on iPlayer are clearly just the "moon-on-a-stick-for-free-NOW" brigade and need a reality check - things cost money and if you want it you have to pay for what it costs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Personally I don't mind...

"People who want the whole archive for free on iPlayer"...

Are just people who want to understand why the very public BBC commitment made in 2003 has been abandoned without justification.

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Re: the very public BBC commitment made in 2003

Here's what Dyke said:

Just imagine your child comes home from school with homework to makea presentation to the class on lions, or dinosaurs, or Argentina or on the industrial revolution.

He or she goes to the nearest broadband connection - in the library, the school or even at home - and logs onto the BBC library.

They search for real moving pictures which would turn their project into an exciting multi-media presentation.

They download them and, hey presto, they are able to use the BBC material in their presentation for free.

Now that is a dream which we will soon be able to turn into reality.

We intend to allow parts of our programmes, where we own the rights, to be available to anyone in the UK to download so long as they don't use them for commercial purposes.

Under a simple licensing system, we will allow users to adapt BBC content for their own use.

We are calling this the BBC Creative Archive.

When complete, the BBC will have taken a massive step forward in opening our content to all - be they young or old, rich or poor.

But then it's not really our content - the people of Britain have paid for it and our role should be to help them use it.

Or was there another occasion when he promised he'd give you someone else's stuff for free?

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A lucky escape

" child comes home from school with homework to make a presentation ... logs onto the BBC library. They search for real moving pictures ... They download them and, hey presto, they are able to use the BBC material in their presentation for free."

And hey presto the child gets a FAIL for plagiarism - though I suppose that in 2003 nobody was too concerned with that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the very public BBC commitment made in 2003

Who's asking for him to give the viewers other people's stuff for free?

I'd just like Dyke's successors to explain why Dyke's announced commitment hasn't been delivered. The technology exists, no sensible person is asking for the BBC to deliver stuff to which they don't own the rights, but there is huge quantities of stuff to which the BBC undoubtedly owns the rights which hasn't been made available in line with the published commitment.

Obviously it couldn't be done with Birt-and-beyond content where the chance of the BBC owning anything worthwhile are almost infinitesimal. But that still leaves plenty of stuff.

Or is the realtity that the BBC archive has actually been privatised (exclusively?) to the likes of Dave, Yesterday, etc (the ones which are part BBC owned?) and they were hoping no one would notice the previous commitment is lost if the exclusivity deal was done on the quiet?

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Re: the very public BBC commitment made in 2003

If you want to know what did / will happen to the Creative Archive the BBC site suggests you contact Tony Ageh who is the controller of archive development.

They will probably say it was piloted and closed at the end of that pilot and that there are no current plans to re-open the project but they are continuing to explore how the archive might be used. Or something similarly bland.

My guess is that it was complicated both legally and technically and therefore expensive, and as it brought in no revenue was an easy option for trimming.

The then controller of the BBC, during a public lecture, said he was going to do something, it was started then abandoned - better than many promises made by politicians about things that are actually important.

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bbc dvds

Rarely touch a DVD nowadays but last time I looked at the boxed sets of Dr. Who, the BBC wanted more per hour playtime than the commercial US companies, compare stargate, 24, etc.

BBC have a bad track record for charging.

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Alert

Re: bbc dvds

Was that counting the extras or just the footage originally shown on TV?

Not saying you're wrong to want a basic DVD with just the TV episodes if that's what you want, but as a hardcore classic-Who fan who appreciates the enormous amount of extra material, I feel that having all that available justifies the higher price.

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Linux

Too rich for my blood.

I am by no means a "freetard". I have quite a pile of purchased spinny disks. However, I am not made of money. The prices for BBC stuff on DVD is kind of outrageous. It's pretty much the most expensive stuff out there except for StarTrek. Although classic DrWho even has StarTrek DVDs beat.

That means that BBC material is low on my shopping list. That means that the greedy sods aren't making any money off me. Someone else is.

If it's not priced low enough to be an "impulse buy" then procrastination is the likely result.

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Gimp

Re: bbc dvds

If you are paying full price for the original series DVD's then you are doing it wrong anyway. Wait a little while and many can be picked up for a fiver on a popular retailer named after a river.

Although I am a hypocrite as yesterday I took delivery of The Deamons (released this week). After not having paid full price or bought on the day of release since I stopped buying in WH Smiths some 8/9 years ago I feel slightly dirty. But I just couldn't resist!

Online retailers have changed everything. In the old days you'd be terrified that if you didn't snap something up in the shop you'd never see a copy again once it dropped out of the charts. These days the online retailers have access to such large stocks that everything gets discounted massively once it's been out for a few months.

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Anonymous Coward

If the BBC commissioned the work....

....then wtf should the licence fee payers pay again?

Is it the licence fee payers fault that the BBC fail to get a decent copyright deal? No, its people like Yentob responsible for that.

Logically if the licence fee payer funded (ie commissioned) the programme then the licence fee payer should be entitled to view that programme whenever they want. We paid and the programme wouldn't have existed in the current format if we hadn't.

How I know there's all sorts of viewing/licencing/copyright crap here but the bottom line for the average BBC viewer is "WE HAVE ALREADY PAID".

I do hope the BBC carry on with Project Barcelona as it will greatly accelerate the demise of the licence fee. I know that last statement will get me loads of downvotes but I object to funding a state-controlled (very mediocre and increasingly biased) broadcaster on penalty of prison.

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

My prescription might need updating but I keep staring at your post and all I can see is "boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo"

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

You HAVE ALREADY PAID (your caps) to watch a programme *on broadcast*. You have NOT PAID (my caps) to watch it whenever you feel like it. It's the latter the BBC/ITV/C4/Sky/HBO/whoever is charging you for when you buy a download/disc/videotape.

iPlayer catch-up is provided as a bonus, not as a right. It is there to help you if you missed a show, not so you can keep watching it until the day you die.

Why do so many people here have such a problem understanding this?

BTW, the way to square the circle is to provide downloads for free but hardwire into them the ads that pay for them.

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

"iPlayer catch-up is provided as a bonus"

A cynic might suggest that the various catch-up services (including the branded PVRs that time limit recordings) are designed to dissuade people from buying unrestricted PVRs and keeping copies of recorded telly forever and ever and ever.

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

Which PVRs time limit recordings? I can't think of any off the top of my head. I can think of those that don't allow offloading of content, but certainly on the free to air platforms, I've never seen auto-expiry of content, which seems to be what you're suggesting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

Oh I see. Its provided "as a bonus".

WTF do you think pays for that you fucktard? WTF paid for the massive expansion in BBC online services which at the time formed no part of the BBCs charter? Ditto IP transit - some of us remember when the BBC was one of the biggest transatlantic IP transit providers.

Get out, you know nothing about the BBC and its activities.

The BBC is funded by forcing people to pay for whatever the state considers to be "good".

With the exception of BBC Bristol (Nature/Science) the BBC has been utter crap for a decade. If you live in the SE of England it probably meets your needs perfectly as that's where 90% of BBC "content" is produced.

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Anonymous Coward

@John Naismith, 17:30

Very vitriolic there, John. Let me guess - the Beeb wouldn't buy one of your scripts or something? Or given your last sentence, are you just another generic disgruntled Notherner?

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

Perhaps you should have a nice cup of tea and a sit down, John. There's probably something soothing on BBC2.

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

@Nigel Whitfield

Ah. I thought Sky/Virgin PVRs time limited pay-per-view and premium stuff? I might well be wrong.

The basic point remains though, I think: they would all prefer you to use their own boxes and services so that they retain some control over what you can watch and when rather than having you record and horde it all yourself.

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

Yes, on some paid content, there are restrictions - though it's more generally where if you record something from a channel, and no longer have that channel in your package, you can't watch the recording.

On the old TopUpTV service, if you didn't watch something within a certain time, and the keys rolled over on the viewing card, then you might not be able to watch; that's more an artefact of the way a CI module works than a deliberate business decision.

But for free to air programming, there aren't any expiry mechanisms. In some cases, there are systems that prevent content being transferred from the PVR's hard drive, but that's as far as it goes.

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Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....

Thanks.

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Silver badge

It's tricky...

The licence fee pays the costs of running the broadcast service, including the initial commissioning and (presumably) any repeat fees for broadcast programmes. Setting up a massive digital archive and paying for the bandwidth to provide 75-years-of-BBC-on-demand really isn't covered by the licence fee. And there is a fair point about 'residuals' payments. So some sort of charge isn't unreasonable - but £1.89 for a 30-minute episode is taking the piss. The licence fee is 40p a day, for which you get to watch each episode of Dr Who at least 30 times every year. 20p per hour for archive downloads seems more reasonable, and perhaps some sort of unlimited subscription option (£30 a year?)

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Unrealistic pricing

The author seems to think that because the BBC can't make all programs available free, anyone who won't pay to download them is being unrealistic. Why? Maybe, like me, they just don't think it's worth the money. The TV licence is 40p/day, so why would I pay more than a few pence to watch a single program? The suggested £1.89 is absurd.

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Re: Unrealistic pricing

"Let the market decide."

If the price is unrealistic then it'll change. It sounds pretty high to me too but just because you and I might not pay it doesn't mean it isn't the going rate.

It could simply be a case of testing the water and seeing how many people go "ouch".

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I think they should split the fee, the usual £12 per month (or whatever it is) for the live stuff and iPlayer and an extra £6 per month for the back catalogue - I'd totally pay that.

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How about a mixed model...

We charge foreigners and use the money to fund it being free for us.

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Re: How about a mixed model...

I thought about that, as a bloody Yank, no less. I'm never for fleecing us taxpayers (*), wherever they are, and it seems that citizens of the UK who pay a license fee should get the free ... or at most at a quite minimal price to help cover the costs of conversions, servers, etc.

(*) With certain exceptions like those at the IRS. At this time of year. I admit that I'm too bitter to be objective on that point.

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Re: How about a mixed model...

I agree. I WANT BBC programming streaming in the US, and can't get it.. I'll pay per episode or whatever, but since I'm not a UK taxpayer, I don't expect any discounts. At the same time, I am flabbergasted at the BBC Classic Series DVD prices (like Dr Who). Since its sunk cost and content already paid for by UK Taxpayers, shouldn't they sell classic content for cheaper and go for VOLUME to recover taxpayer costs for the UK while still paying the residuals, and help produce more content?

If I were a UK taxpayer who'd been funding the programming, I'd expect substantial discounts on the streaming, since that programming was taxpayer funded. I'd definitely expect the BBC to heavily sell it overseas and let that offset my usage as a taxpayer as well. The Beebs seems to be mixed up though, since it is technically commercial, while it is still a quasi-government entity who answers to the Government. (kinda like the USPS in that regard). The BBC has the opportunity to make some serious money, but it won't bother to pursue it due to the civil service mentality that seems to run through much of it. Or at least that's my take on it. I could wrong, and if I am, someone from the UK fix the above for me. :)

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Re: How about a mixed model...

No argument here! I would love to pay for being able to watch some of the BBC's fine programs online shortly after their broadcast, if only the BBC would take my filthy foreign money!

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Anonymous Coward

Two points

Point 1: Does the article say anything about ***HOW MUCH*** people might pay, and for what exactly? Why not? There's a difference between 20p for a single programme, £2 for a single programme, and £2 for a complete series, with or without DRM.

Point 2:

"Greg Dyke, director general of the BBC, has announced plans to give the public full access to all the corporation's programme archives.

Mr Dyke said on Sunday that everyone would in future be able to download BBC radio and TV programmes from the internet.

The service, the BBC Creative Archive, would be free and available to everyone, as long as they were not intending to use the material for commercial purposes."

Nothing I've seen has explained what exactly has changed to justify breaking Dyke's public commitment to the people who actually fund the BBC and the programme makers.

Source: BBC News 1993 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/3177479.stm

[continued below the silly fade]

"The BBC probably has the best television library in the world," said Mr Dyke, who was speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

"Up until now this huge resource has remained locked up, inaccessible to the public because there hasn't been an effective mechanism for distribution.

"But the digital revolution and broadband are changing all that. "

[continues]

Full unedited speech at http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2003/08_august/24/dyke_dunn_lecture.shtml

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Re: Two points

Seeing as I'm such a nice person, I shall see if I can find an answer for you, though it may take time. The Press Office is not always swift to respond, even to its sleeper agents.

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Re: Two points

"Mr Dyke said on Sunday that everyone would in future be able to download BBC radio and TV programmes from the internet."

The problem seems to be that there is a word missing from that sentence if you want it to be 100% explicit. You seem to think the sentence means:

"Mr Dyke said on Sunday that everyone would in future be able to download all BBC radio and TV programmes from the internet."

Whereas I expect that what he meant was:

"Mr Dyke said on Sunday that everyone would in future be able to download some BBC radio and TV programmes from the internet."

But of course you are not quoting Mr Dyke's speech - you are quoting a report about the speech. So it is useful to check the original text to see what was actually said. Oh yes...

"We intend to allow parts of our programmes, where we own the rights, to be available to anyone in the UK to download so long as they don't use them for commercial purposes."

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Re: Two points

as a helpful guide, my newly invigorated AppleTV h/w version 2 , running Software 5.0 , which has on-device Apple ID sign up for 'content partners' , really surprised me with the breadth of partners available. The days of narrowcast internet-only TV are approaching!

I think having played with the ATV menu's that the series 7 of Mythbusters (through Discovery Channel partner) was £58 (fifty-eight quid). This was a 'whole series purchase' only. I think BBC and C4 were present on the partner list but I use FreeSat PVR with a humungous local archive instead so didn't look what Apple/BBC think is a 'reasonable' price. (just checked on iTunes and my reference Mythbusters S7 £58 is available at £1.89 per episode, interestingly Mythbusters S6 (2009) is £43 for the series , S5 (2008) £25, S4 (2007) £22, whilst S3 (also 2007) is down to £19 for the series) There's some long-tail in the pricing...

Of course Auntie will form a committee to report in a few years what they should charge - but I guess it'll be £1.49 per pop

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Two points

Of course I'm quoting selectively, but as luck would have it I am familiar with the full speech, hence the link to the full speech below the silly fade.

I don't see that there's been any significant attempt to deliver anything seriously resembling the promised Creative Archive. Do you? If so, where is the promised content please?

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Headmaster

Free

There's very little that can be repeated for 'free" due to the issue of actors and writers repeat fees and any music rights.

The BBC also have to ensure they keep the paperwork up to date to send the relevant payments to relevant parties. This cost has to be worked in. Rights can be mind bogglingly complicated.

In some cases writers/actors need to give permission for repeats to be shown. Remember the debacle over The Professionals? Martin Shaw refused to let The Professionals be repeated until he was made aware that the widow of Gordon Jackson had fallen on hard times and really needed the income.

In short, very little can be shown for "free" and that's not the fault of the BBC.

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Headmaster

Rights examples

Just to further illustrate this with a couple of Doctor Who examples that I know of. Everytime a Dalek appears in a story Terry Nation is also paid a fee regardless of he is the writer or not. Likewise every episode K9 is in, a fee is paid to the writer that originally "created" him.

In both cases none of the poor sods who did the donkey work designing and realising the said creations get a penny because they were BBC staffers. But the people who "created" them on paper did.

Which is why it all gets so very very messy and why nothing is actually "free".

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Bronze badge

Re: Rights examples

How about the "Dimensions in Time" charity special during Children in Need.

The rights in that are said to be so Byzantine, that it will never be seen ever again. To some (many?) people that is no great shame. But it is an example of a programme being made without bothering about the needs of future broadcast let alone the internet.

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Get real

I'm with Nigel on this one. Just because you pay a subscription fee (legally enforced in this case) doesn't grant you free and perpetual access to broadcast content after the two-week(?) period assigned you by UK copyright law. Never has, and probably never will. Content isn't free - it has to be paid for when it's made. Creators should be paid - they have mortgages too - and if a new delivery mechanism comes along, they have a right (moral and legal) to a share of the proceeds.

Don't like that? Limit yourself to YouTube.

I buy Doctor Who DVDs and have bought other shows in the past. Buying a download is no different for most folks, and is only so for me because I refuse to buy into DRM. I spent lots on VHS too, now replaced for convenience as much as quality.

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Except...

As far as I understand it, the majority of recent productions are "buy outs" in which the creators (or the majority of them) don't get any residuals. Much like those shows that go into "syndication" in the US and produce no further return to the original artists. I'm not sure exactly what the position is with the endlessly-repeated shows (like Dad's Army), but I suspect their constant appearance is a result of the rights having been secured in perpetuity by one means or another.

What that means is the money isn't going to the artist, it's going to the production company. Which, in most cases is the BBC or has been bankrolled (or partly bankrolled) by the BBC. If we, the licence/taxpayer has essentially taken the risk to finance the production in the first place and guaranteed it a certain level of return, I don't quite see that offering an unending source of income to the production company has the clout as a moral argument that "creators should be paid" implies.

Ironically, it is of course the opportunity created by digital media to constantly re-broadcast and re-sell content that led to the idea of a buy-out: too complicated to track all those potential royalties from individual downloads and micropayments and all that potential free money is just too tempting. For corporations, public and private.

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JDX
Gold badge

Why even a discussion?

You don't expect to be able to get BBC content on DVD for free, or free + P&P to burn a DVD and send it to you. Making it digital content doesn't magically change anything.

You pay your license to watch BBC broadcasting, not get access to their archive.

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Go

I have been watching some BBC stuff on Netflix (Robin Hood, Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers), so I have paid (a marginal amount) for access.

Would I subscribe to a service that provided access only to BBC material? Probably not. I don't want to have separate accounts with different services for each provider, but I'm happy to see the material available on other services I am paying for anyway.

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Bronze badge

Well if the content's *that* old I'm paying in £sd!

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