This is the new Boeing 787 aircraft that was unveiled a few days ago — described as more fuel-efficient, and therefore more climate friendly. Not to mention being a more comfortable plane to fly on.
Now just imagine if one of these new aircraft were to be used for a single return flight — let’s say Singapore to London and back — and then relegating it to a hanger for the rest of its lifetime!
What a callous waste that would be. Now who would do that, and will that be tolerated?
Yet something like this happens in the moving images industry quite frequently….and not too many seem to be bothered.
Every year, many new TV films and documentaries are produced with considerable investment of time, effort and money. After one or few broadcasts, they are confined to broadcast archives. Trapped in copyright restrictions, they languish there even though they can be a vital resource for teachers, students, civil society groups and trainers worldwide.
To me, this is as much a criminal waste as throwing away a Jumbo jet after a single journey.
In fact, I’ve been writing and talking about it whenever I can. Here’s an extract from my speech to Asia Media Summit 2007 held in late May 2007 in Kuala Lumpur:
Every year, excellent TV programmes are made on different development topics. Public and private funds are spent in making these programmes, which draw in the creativity and hard work of committed professionals.
Many channels broadcast these programmes. They are typically aired a few times and then end up in the archives. Few may be exploited for their multimedia potential.
Yet many of these programmes have a longer shelf-life – and outside the broadcast sphere. They can be extremely useful in education, awareness raising, advocacy and training.
Alas, copyrights restrictions are often too tight for that to happen. Even where the film-makers or producers themselves are keen for their creations to be used beyond broadcasts, the copyright policies stand in the way. In large broadcast organisations, it is lawyers and accountants –- not journalists or producers -– who now seem to decide on what kind of content is produced, and how it is distributed under what restrictions.
This is why we at TVE Asia Pacific have been calling for poverty and development to be recognised as a copyrights-free zone. So that the crushing (and completely meaningless) grip of copyrights can be loosened up.
I first made this proposal in mid 2006, in an op ed essay published online at MediaChannel.org. I then reiterated it at the UN Headquarters in New York in September 2006, when addressing the 59th annual UN NGO Conference.
The idea has been well received in education and civil society circles. But predictably enough, the broadcast community itself has been less enthusiastic.
We just have to keep on at it.