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BBC Sound Effects made available to download for use under RemArc Licence (acropolis.org.uk)
137 points by sohkamyung 11 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments



That licence is written in some very nice plain English. Congratulations to the people that did it.


The RemArc license https://github.com/bbcarchdev/Remarc/raw/master/doc/2016.09.... clearly attempts to appear friendly and aimed at being understood by non-lawyers but what the license says is not nice at all. This license purports to cover software (among other things) and it is clearly non-free (and a clear illustration of how open source is not free software). That's bad enough to reject the license and all covered works in itself. But the license is worse for using unclear and rights-limiting language.

Open source and software freedom are not the same thing:

This license claims to cover many types of "content" (see https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.html#Content for why that's a bad idea) including "Technical stuff such as metadata and open-source code (please see point 7)". The Open Source Initiative started over a decade after the free software movement began and promotes a 10-point development methodology built to reject the ethical underpinning of the free software movement. The Open Source Definition is not at all the same as software freedom (the freedom to run, inspect, share, and modify published software). Open source advocates sometimes reject that 10-point methodology altogether and adopt whatever proprietary work is available if that work is sufficiently attractive (see https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.... for more on this). The RemArc license is an example of papering over the limitations of proprietary control by using a term people think they understand.

The RemArc license is highly prejudiced against commercial and educational use. Section 7 tells us RemArc-covered works are "only for non-commercial, personal or research purposes". Using the covered work "substantially to do your job – as an employee, contractor or consultant" might require you to pay a fee not listed in this license. And that personal or research use (however that is meant to be interpreted) is further limited to "formal education purposes while you are a student or a member of staff of a school, college or university". So if you're doing your own research/education work or if you're home-schooling, you are not licensed to use the covered work. I can't say if this qualifies as "open source" as the license says, but these restrictions absolutely disqualify this license from being a free software license.

RemArc license is very unclear:

"Don't mess with our content" seems to mean let the copyright holders dictate when you must remove the work upon request. So you are being kept from keeping a copy of the work thus censoring you.

"Don’t use our content for harmful or offensive purposes" is defined using vague and undefined terms such as being "insulting", "promoting pornography" (precisely what pornography is or what 'promotes' pornography is doubly-unclear), "putting children at risk" (of what? They don't say), "anything illegal. Like using hate speech" (which, is not defined in the US and not defined in this license, and would not survive 1st Amendment scrutiny in the US if used by a state-funded institution akin to coming from the state-funded BBC). Also one is not licensed to use the work in a "harmful or offensive" way such as "Using our content for political or social campaigning purposes". Not only is that unclear it could include doing things I don't find offensive, harmful, insulting, or illegal such as educating children about software freedom.

RemArc license is referred to as a contract ("This is a contract between you and us.") and also a license (2nd line). I don't know how English law defines these terms or what the consequences of those terms are, but in American law they don't mean exactly the same thing.

It makes real a myth propagated by anti-software freedom campaigners:

"You have to [u]se the latest version of the content and, where we have it, don’t remove any tagging or tracking" so if they change something, they demand you change your work that includes theirs (presumably without notice). This implements a myth used to argue against strongly-copylefted software covered under the GNU GPL. Ironically, the GPL allows anyone with a copy of the covered code to edit out anything they don't like, so there's no obligation to pass along "tagging or tracking" nor is there any obligation to keep up with changes made in other copies of the same work. But the RemArc license requires you be a bolster for privacy-busting tactics such as tracking. Hardly a nice way to treat people!

It's remarkably restrictive:

"English law governs these terms, and only English courts can make judgments about them." Why would anyone outside this court system want to have their rights determined by English law?

It makes no sense why BBC fee payers would want to be compelled to pay to have taxpayer-funded workers to make works which are so restrictively licensed.

I suspect this license might be someone's well-meaning but poorly chosen attempt at being approachable by non-lawyers. I cringe at the thought of that just as I do when I hear non-technical people describe computer-related problems and say things that make no sense leaving me to try to guess at what they really meant ("I put the floppy disk in the hard drive and switched the monitor on but the game didn't play." which might mean they put something in their computer and only turned on the monitor but not the computer therefore no program ran).

This license and everything covered under it should be avoided.


We can leave the whether or not publicly-funded work like this should belong to the public (no not the Crown) so I understand that this is theirs to license how they see fit... but this license stinks.

It's non-commercial. It has huge moral use clauses. It basically limits your use to the same standards the BBC is required to keep at broadcast.

And you have to give a credit. And you can't use too much of it (lest somebody think you're sponsored by the BBC). And you cannot denature the collection or remove tracking or branding from it.

AAAAAnd you have to remove files from your copy when they ask. This is a revocable license.


Wow! Decades ago when I was a theatre sound designer I had those on vinyl and used them all the time. This brings back memories.


I wonder if there's a mass download of all these sounds?

I'm just lazy. These are epic!

EDIT: Working on a one liner :)

EDIT: I'm sure it's like some curl and xargs and sed, it's been a while...

EDIT: Oh yeah, I win at internet:

curl http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/BBCSoundEffects.csv | grep -Eow "[0-9]+.wav" | xargs -I % curl http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/%>%

EDIT: Wait I suck that doesn't work. This does:

curl http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/BBCSoundEffects.csv | grep -Eow "[0-9]+.wav" | xargs -I % curl -O http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/%

-O for dOwnlOad


Thanks, seems to be chugging along fine in an MSYS2 terminal on Windows.

Now to give them better names than the numbers used by BBC. Any solutions/suggestions?


Actually, some of those transfers ended up timing out, and I have no way to know which files are incomplete.

Ended up using Notepad++ and a simple regex in the find/replace dialog to prepend ########.wav with the URL, then chucked it into JDownloader's link grabber. 283.83GB, BTW. I may end up compressing these with FLAC to save the space. If anyone is curious, the regex I used was: (([0-9])+.wav) and replaced with http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/$&

Now for the naming and splitting by CD name...


nice ! GG


What a weird license... it's not a free one though.


I don't think this license makes sense at all for a sound effect library.

> 4.a Not removing content from your device or systems when we ask you to.

Use sound effect in a short film, BBC take down the sound effect library, your film is now illegal.

> 4.b Don't use our content for (…) promoting (…) tobacco (…) anything that would harm the BBC reputation (…) social campaigning purposes or fundraising.

Also no ads next to or over the content.

Also, from paragraph 4.h you are not allowed to share the content.


Real scenario: a friend was asking me a few weeks back if I had any audio clips for the theatrical show in his kid's school. Not much, just a clock ticking, a car honk. The show was of course free (parents were acting for their kids to enjoy). All non-profit. That library would be helpful (and will be helpful next year when they'll have to perform again).

And oh how I miss GetRight. I remember it was able to jump-around and download from linked web-pages. While IDM doesn't seem to be able to crawl like this (or at least I haven't found a way).

Edit: snap if you got an Android/iOS app and want to add some sounds (e.g. "Lion roaring (inside cage)") then you fall under '8. a) for commercial purposes – to make a profit' you need permission, which sensibly one can obtain without jumping through too many hoops.


freesound.org would be safer for the school show I think


Another vote for freesound. FS' licensing is also much more reasonable


Whoah great library!! Thank you!


It appears this is part of a larger collection intended for educational use:

“The RES initiative was launched to make lessons, lectures and learning more interesting, varied, colourful and informative, to enrich teaching across different levels and subjects and to support research at all levels.

RES offers a free, openly licensed index of cultural assets from some of the world's leading cultural institutions. Images, TV and radio programmes, podcasts, documents, text, pre-formatted teaching materials, and more are all being indexed by RES. The information about rights is included with the assets.”

https://bbcarchdev.github.io/res/


I wonder if the monster disc is missing?


Really interesting to scroll through and play random sounds. Seems very comprehensive, although it is a bit UK centric (not surprisingly). A good source for a project I've been contemplating to deconstruct sounds in the same way a picture can be represented by SVG.


Yep, don't go searching for elevator when what you really need is the lift.


One can hardly make a good ringtone if search results for "tardis", "sonic screwdriver" and "dalek" yielded nothing.


jQuery and a 2MB CSV, gets the job done I guess. Makes batch downloading the whole library trivial too :)


If you gots bash you can do this in the dir you wanna download 'em all too, for education:

curl http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/BBCSoundEffects.csv | grep -Eow "[0-9]+.wav" | xargs -I % curl -O http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/%


Now make me a Slack bot so I can torture my coworkers.


Quite relaxing listening to the atmosphere ones.


If you're looking for more things to listen that are atmospheric I recommend checking out this site: http://mynoise.net

The author and sound designer has had a long history of making patches for famous Roland instruments, and he designed his own microphones for a lot of these recordings. They are top notch.

I listen to Rain on a Tin Roof and Steel Mill at work as white noise. Very good for focus!


Love this site, been a supporter for some time now.




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