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BBC Sound Effects made available to download for use under RemArc Licence (2018) (acropolis.org.uk)
541 points by sandebert on Sept 25, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 131 comments

> The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license[1].

So for commercial purposes you need to licence them, as described here[2]:

> We provide various options from single downloads you choose ($5) to the entire library on hard drive ($1,995), to annual licensing for multi-user media production companies

[1] http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/

[2] https://blog.prosoundeffects.com/how-to-license-bbc-sound-ef...

So the “available for download” part is at the very least bad phrasing and at worst potentially misleading. Obviously anything you pay for and license is “available for download”, but if it’s not free to use then what’s the point? If anything it should simply state that the effects are “available”, as in they are now available for purchase.

Also, isn’t the BBC one of many publicly funded media outlets? It should at the very least be free to use for those who pay to keep the service alive, and ideally completely freely licensed as I think any public work should be.

Does anyone with experience with this sort if thing know what kind of deal this is? It seems quite cheap.

The deal differs from other sound libraries in that educational purposes are covered by a quite different licence to commercial purposes. This is reflective of the mandate of the Royal Charter that incorporates the BBC, that it "support learning". The various restrictions on endorsement and representation and suchlike in the RemArc licence reflect the Royal Charter's imposition that the BBC itself be non-commercial.

You can compare the commercial licence with that of others for yourself. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24587496 for starters. Notice the sorts of terms that commercial sound libraries impose.

Notice also that the commercial licence is not sold by the BBC. It is sold by a U.S. company named Pro Sound Effects. The Royal Charter prohibits for-profit activities by the BBC itself. So the profits from commercial licences are probably not going back to the BBC.

Thats very interesting, you seem to know a lot about how the BBC is structured. Do you mind if I ask how the for-profit prohibition of their charter aligns with the ad-supported international BBC News websites and broadcasts on BBC Worldwide?

I used to work at BBC and was part of the team that split the BBC News website up into UK and International (UKFS and IFS) and some of the early advertising additions.

BBC Worldwide is an independent for-profit organization and, for the most part, responsible for the commercialization of BBC assets outside of the UK as the BBC itself is not able to commercialize.

Assets like Top Gear are an example of that - the show's production budget is(/was) unusually high because the BBC produces it for the world market where it knows it will generate a significant return selling the licenses (or broadcasting on BBC America etc). Compare that to domestic shows, such as Have I Got News For You, which is not shown abroad.

The advertising on BBC Website is placed by BBC Worldwide and they receive the money from that.

Profits made by BBC Worldwide are dispersed back into the BBC itself.

Aside from Worldwide the BBC has split up and sold or commercialized other assets. Much of the technical infrastructure it owned became RedBee and was invested in by Castle and/or Siemens (my memory is fuzzy). They also broke off their studio facilities into BBC Studios which I believe now operate commercially.

The BBC has been pushed considerably by Tory governments to becomes smaller over time which has resulted in these sell offs and break offs.

I've not worked at the BBC for 15 years but follow it closely and can probably answer other questions you might have.

That is really cool, thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I really consider the BBC is a national treasure and I hope we can preserve it.

I know as much as anyone else who has actually read the Royal Charter. (-:

The Charter covers "UK Public Services" and the "World Service", as does the Agreement with the Minister of the Crown. The World Service is a specific thing, which you can read about for yourself.

* So public service broadcasting to other countries isn't within the terms of the Charter.

* Commercial activities are prohibited to the BBC itself. They are limited to commercial subsidiaries.

The upshot of this is that services that you get outwith the U.K. are not from the BBC. They are from commercial subsidiary companies, such as BBC Studios for example, or from joint venture companies. BBC Studios is what broadcasts BBC content such as BBC America outwith the United Kingdom. Similarly, the WWW site that is served up to computers outwith the United Kingdom isn't provided by the BBC. It is provided by BBC Global News Ltd, another commercial subsidiary. It's quite different to the WWW site that is seen within the U.K..

The commercial subsidiaries aren't funded by the Licence Fee, and the BBC itself is not permitted to make a profit from its dealings with them, which must be "at arm's length" (to quote the Agreement).

* https://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/governance/charter

I'm missing something, obviously. I know the "commercial" BBC made a killing from Top Gear show sales to other regions, but surely the rights to sell it were not given to them for free by the nonprofit arm?

If the license fee pays to make show x, who _eventually_ profits from the sale of x to the US?

I've no idea where the profits made by the commercial subsidiaries eventually go, except that the BBC itself is not allowed to operate for profit. That said, you seem to be missing that giving something away for free and selling it for a profit are not exhaustive of the possibilities. (-:

Profits from commercial subsidiaries goes to fund the BBC budget and reduce the reliance on License fee.

For example last year BBC Studios paid £200m as dividend to the BBC.


The BBC do definitely make and take profits from their productions.


The key is, I think, that a UK resident should not have to pay anything (other than the license fee) or be subject to advertising to enjoy BBC content.

So something produced for a UK audience can be sold outside the UK and the profits used by the BBC to make more content.

Definitions of these things vary greatly in each country, but a 'non-profit' may sell things, where I am.

What's important is that the 'selling of things' is targeted to 'recoup costs', not 'make profit'.

An example, hosting an event and charging $5 per seat, to recoup the costs of renting the theatre. And to pay talent.

Maybe this is different in the UK?

And, you keep saying "operate for profit", which makes me think it is part of their charter, instead of saying "non-profit" which makes me think of my above logic.

> It's quite different to the WWW site that is seen within the U.K..

I browse both regularly and they’re basically the same content just with an advert. Not really sure what you’re talking about.

Many parts are completely inaccessible from abroad.

In the past some parts accessible abroad were blocked in the UK (BBC Future for example)!

As I recall, for iPlayer you need to VPN to the UK from abroad and register with a UK postal code.

It was a few years ago, but last time I looked at iPlayer (arrive the time the license requirements changed to cover online) you had to put your license number in? (I guess perhaps that was a limited trial or something).

As I recall (I think I watched some theater a few months ago), you had to check a box that you had a license but you didn't have to actually enter anything.

Anything the BBC releases has to pass a market distortion test to make sure that it doesn't affect the competition - even commercial projects built by the commercial arm of the BBC (which doesn't receive any license fee funding)

BBC Jam for example was a project back in 2006 offering multi-media educational resources free across the UK. This was 2 years before Khan Academy.


Commercial companies complained, and the project was shut down.


In 2008, UK broadcasters (BBC, ITV and Channel 4), seeing how Netflix was going, and bearing this in mind, built a fully commercial video on demand platform. That too was shut down by the government because "it might become too powerful".

The BBC's self funded commercial arm recently expanded in Austrailia, attracting complaints from the Guardian who had done the same thing.


Back to license fee funding, earlier this year the BBC, no longer able to use its resources to create the types of broadcasts due to covid (no coverage of sport for example when there's no sport), used its resources to help UK parents who were suddenly tasked with home-schooling 9 million children overnight.

Everyone was happy you'd think, but oh no - "The BBC is under pressure to axe access to its home-learning lessons – used by millions of children during the coronavirus crisis – over fears they will squeeze commercial curriculum providers out of the market"


That seems quite a contrast to the early 80s, when they sponsored/commissioned their own branded home computer, promoted it on half the TV channels in the country and got it into every school in the country.

Although in ~40 years' retrospect, especially in discussions on Hacker News and elsewhere of modern IT education where you'll find people reminiscing on how they learned computing when they were young, it turns out to have been very much in line with a goal of promoting and supporting learning. I don't know what the Charter said about that goal back in the 1980s. It would be interesting to read what the BBC's Royal Charter said over time.

Conversely, another ~40 years into the past takes us back to the time when there was a BBC Empire Service. So there's more than one contrast to be had as one looks through history.

The government today is ideologically and politically opposed to the existence of the BBC, go figure. I don't think Thatcher was exactly a fan back in the 80s but equally they had more pressing matters to attend to

Jam and Kangeroo were during Labour

These used to be released on vinyl, there was once an incident in Ireland whereby a record player was hidden in a tree and BBC sound effects records were played at night to scare some of the sheep that were part of a "King of the Sheep" competition. It was a big scandal at the time.

Wow this sounds very funny and pretty interesting. I can't find anything about it from some cursory DDG/Googling. Would love to read about it if you have any links.

Ah, you don't recognize the plot of an episode of Father Ted. It's titled "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep".

Which title, in turn, is a pastiche of a bloody awful 1970's pop-song.

My goodness! I've never heard that song until today. I wonder what street of what town Lally Stott is walking down, in the video. It makes quite a contrast with Richard Ashcroft moodily stomping down Hoxton, 27 years later. M. Stott is walking in time to the beat. And smiling. (-:

It was believed to be a monster of sorts. It was called "The Beast of Craggy Island".

Bit of a shame the license is so restrictive you can't even use it in non-profit organisations without permission. Wondering what you can realistically do with them other than using one for a ringtone on your phone

If you're a "media" producer, you can use them to build your game, soundtrack, presentation, etc. Once you're satisfied, and the product will be published, you can decide to get a license. You've seen the price: buying such licenses beforehand is only for dedicated professionals.

For comparison, see the prices and licensing of the General Series 6000 library from Sound Ideas:

* https://sound-ideas.com/Collection/2/2/0/The-General-Series-...

The Sound Ideas licence expressly prohibits the use of any of its sound effects "as mobile telecom audio content such as ring tones, ringback tones, soundscapes, multimedia messaging services (MMS), voice messaging, audio enhancements, greeting mail services, or other content applications now known or which shall become known".

* https://sound-ideas.com/Page/Sound-Ideas-End-User-License

That's not the only restriction in the Sound Ideas licence. You may only use the effects at one address. You may not sell or throw away your computers or disc drives if you don't wipe them. You may not put sound effects into firmware.

But can you use them as a sound effect in a youtube video, where you may earn some revenue through adverts some time in the future (or maybe not)?

> where you may earn some revenue through adverts

This is commercial use and paid.

It really isn't as clear as that. Most youtube videos are not monetised, but the status could change years later. Further, in an hour long video, using a 5 second audio clip with an advertising revenue of £0.10 is considered commercial and a payment?

Not a lawyer, but I do work with licensed content: In this case you would probable need to pay the licensing fee before turning on ads for any video using assets from this library.

But what if you do it by accident, forgetting that you’d used a licensed asset in this long-published video? Tough cookies.

If you’re going to publish a mix of commercial and non-commercial content, you’d best be using some sort of tagging system to keep track of which videos use assets from which libraries. Because if you mess up, it’s on you.

We frequently run into this issue when a vendor gets bought by another company who doesn’t want to renew their contract with us: At that point we have to use our tagging system to find any content using assets from that library and either pull it or find replacements from somewhere else.

> with an advertising revenue of £0.10 is considered commercial and a payment?

Yes. Ignorance not excuse. There are quite a few cases where people go on GIS and find some random image, and then stock image crawling bots encounter it and extract payment with penalties.

Even if they are not monetised by the uploader, the video will still be monetised by Google, so this is still commercial use, even if they only earn 0.0001c

YouTube is a commercial website, whether or not they give you a cut of their profits for your content is irrelevant. To upload videos to YouTube, you must assign them a license for their commercial use. You have no right to make that assignment of license if you do not hold the right yourself.


Looking at the license[1], I think not:

> [...] You can't [...] put ads next to or over it (the content)

1: https://github.com/bbcarchdev/Remarc/blob/master/doc/2016.09...

Can you actually buy a license from the BBC for these?

Go to the actual BBC page, the RES Acropolis one that has been pointed to in this very discussion several times, and your question is answered in the third sentence.

"Yes" would have been shorter.

Shortness wasn't the goal. Making you read what is in front of you, for yourself, was. And "yes" is not even the answer.

As a hobby musician, I can sample them and work them into my music.

Only need to license it if I decide to release it on Spotify.

Depends a lot on where you are.

USA's Fair Use would probably let you sample these sounds for use in developing your music even without the license.

In the UK there aren't anything like personal use exceptions so sampling if its allowed by the license would be fine, but if you play back the track and anyone hears it then strictly that's a performance and likely to be infringing (yes, UK law is that restrictive; for example UK schools have to have music performance licenses to watch TV in class in case a program includes copyright music, it's pretty ludicrous).

You mean non-profits like Mozilla, where the CEO makes $2.5 million a year? Yeah, they should be able to pay for this just as any other company.

The BBC is perpetually limited to "not compete" with "real" companies. That is why you still cannot watch anything you want on the iPlayer despite the service having been working for long enough that they had could've really staked at out a claim for themselves. Even if you pay the licence fee they are still overly limited in what they can let you watch - in doing so the regulators have probably killed off the BBC's long term prospects amongst the younger generation (no one my age watches TV by default anymore)

The aforementioned might be why they've gone with the licence that they did.

If you wonder why the answer is successive Tory government don't like the BBC at an ideological and personal level (hence why the BBC ends up having to pay the once free licence fees of old people)

> If you wonder why the answer is successive Tory government don't like the BBC at an ideological and personal level (hence why the BBC ends up having to pay the once free licence fees of old people)

The unelected Labour opposition proposed activist shills took control of the editorial policy of not just the BBC but also print media.

For anyone not familiar with the debate, the BBC is inexorably accused of both being too left wing and too right wing by various loudmouths.

> Even if you pay the licence fee they are still overly limited in what they can let you watch - in doing so the regulators have probably killed off the BBC's long term prospects amongst the younger generation (no one my age watches TV by default anymore)

That's because the content is absolutely appalling. I speak as a BBC fan and proponent historically. Both TV and Radio output quality has been absolutely eviscerated in the last 10 or so years, for various reasons and by certain kinds of persons.

I challenge anyone to go to this link for tomorrow: https://www.bbc.co.uk/schedules/p00fzl6p/2020/09/26 and tell me how the premier/flagship BBC channel content on a Friday there remotely represents balanced quality output?

In prime time there are 3 reality/talent shows and Casualty, a terrible budget soap opera that's been endured for the last 35 years (with multiple spin offs) as well as a close to zero budget quiz show. That's the "good" content, the rest is even more miserable. How does that even remotely represent value for the $4billion a year they take by statutory arrangement?

That's only BBC One. BBC Two, BBC Four, and BBC News also exist. Of course, if one only looks at one channel things seem lopsided. Providing different services on different channels was partly the point.

> Providing different services on different channels was partly the point.

No, BBC one's remit is not to just show fluffy nonsense

It's remit is in fact:

> BBC One’s remit is to be the BBC’s most popular mixed-genre television service across the UK, offering a wide range of high quality programmes. It should be the BBC’s primary outlet for major UK and international events and it should reflect the whole of the UK in its output. A very high proportion of its programmes should be original productions.

No. The BBC One service description is actually:

> a mixed-genre channel, with versions for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and variations for English regions and the Channel Islands, providing a very broad range of programmes to a mainstream audience;

As I said, the different channels are different services, which is partly the point. BBC Four's service description is, for example:

> a channel providing an intellectually and culturally enriching alternative to mainstream programming on other BBC channels;

My item was a direct quote from the BBC trust's description of the channel remit. Indeed it was the remit in full

Well I've gone one better than you by quoting the formal public service description that is part of the formal list of "UK Public Services" under the Agreement between the BBC and the U.K. Government. There are eight television services, not just BBC One as you had it, and they are different services on different channels.

So you deny the remit of BBC one is as stated and the BBC doesn't operate under that principle?

Is there a difference between being "most popular, wide range, mixed-genre" and being "mainstream audience, broad range, mixed-genre" ?

> offering a wide range of high quality programmes

How often do you watch a show on BBC One?

> Both TV and Radio output quality has been absolutely eviscerated in the last 10 or so years

Who was in power all that time?

Are you suggesting the editorial direction has been set by the government? Please provide evidence if so

The BBC, to me, over the last 2-3 years has demonstrated massive pro-Conservative party bias. The mechanism for that is not apparent, but look at Kuenssberg and you see someone who has regularly been followed by accusations of strong bias with ultimately, it seems, nothing being done about it. To my view she (or the team she's in?) directly interfered in the last election; she didn't seem to be hindered in any way. Someone caught divisively lying on several occasions (each damaging Corbyn/Labour) yet remaining in post says to me their is political control over the BBC. She did grill Johnson after the election when it no longer mattered though.

Ironically Radio 4 (taken as a whole) seems to provide a reasonably level playing field; but their listeners are a small fraction of BBC1's viewers.

I think the parties involved are smart enough not to leave evidence lying around in public. The "postal vote" debacle was either a direct attack on democracy, out in the open, or a complete failure of the entire editorial team that should have seen them immediately sacked.

Interestingly the Cabinet Secretary, head of the civil Service - which headlines itself as having open public recruitment - was chosen by Johnson on entry to Downing Street.

My personal opinion is this is a drip-drip-drip erosion of balance to allow the current government fascististic levels of control.

Most recently reports are that some satirical comedy shows are being stopped as the government see them as too critical of Tories and not critical enough of others (they must have forgotten who is in power). How is it possible the BBC aren't being interfered with in removing some of their most popular domestic broadcasting when the only extent reasoning is 'to reduce on-air criticism of the current government'.

I'm sure you'll wave your hand and say this is all anecdote. In general Trump's playbook has been copied by Johnson, control of media/reporting is a part of that.

The BBC is overseen by a government minister

Massively arms length.

The head of the Radio division is literally an ex Labour minister, in Blair/Brown government.

The BBC is fully independent and there are multiple levels of oversight to ensure that. I'm sure you can furiously Google a more apt response than that. Evidence please

Are you saying that Labour controls print media and the BBC in the UK?

> Are you saying that Labour controls print media and the BBC in the UK?

No, how did you arrive at that invalid summation?

Possibly because:

"The unelected Labour opposition proposed activist shills"

is difficult to understand.

How so? It seems unambiguously straightforward to me on reflection.

For one thing, as other people are trying to explain, opposition parties are not "unelected".

It's also unclear, to me at least, what you mean by "proposed" and by "shills" and who these people are, specifically, who you claim control the BBC and print media, since despite specifically referring to "Labour" you said you don't mean it's Labour.

Maybe it is supposed to be the more grammatical:

> The Labour opposition had proposed that activist shills take control of the editorial policy of ...

It's your turn to ask for "evidence please", I believe. (-:

> opposition parties are not "unelected".

unelected to government.

> , who you claim control the BBC and print media, since despite specifically referring to "Labour" you said you don't mean it's Labour.

I didn't use a present tense. Corbyn et al had a proposal to take control of editorial departments of major newspapers and tv media to set the agenda.

Your difficulty in reading comprehension is hardly relevant to the point

> I didn't use a present tense. Corbyn et al had a proposal to take control

You didn't say Labour proposed to "take control", you said Labour proposed "shills" "took control". Took.

Why you're continually trying to pretend other people can't read what you wrote, when it's there[0] for anyone to see, is baffling.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24587997

In the UK we don't elect any members of our government, so that seems a redundant statement.

However, conventionally the Prime Minister will be chosen from the ranks of elected Members of the Commons, and all the Great Officers (the senior cabinet posts like Foreign Secretary or Chancellor) will likewise be MPs. So every Prime Minister in living memory was the elected MP for their constituents.

Since it's only a convention the Commons certainly could just decide not to do this, and of course there isn't anybody to stop them - but that would be extraordinary. It hasn't happened at all in the modern era.

I guess the most plausible way it could arise now is if there isn't any majority in the Commons after an election, a conventional senior-junior coalition partnership in which the larger party gets PM but the smaller party gets some other roles is impossible for some reason, and the "obvious" compromise centrist politician has meanwhile been elevated to the Lords.

Nothing in the existing rules actually forbids a Lord being PM, it would just be incredibly inconvenient (the Commons hold the PM to account not the Lords so...) and look undemocratic, so I guess in that case they might decide the way forward is we put this chap in place as caretaker, his executive gets us out of whatever immediate hole we're in, and then hold fresh elections. If there is a decent majority in the Commons for that idea, it's enough to make it happen.

Government in UK political and legal terminology ostensibly refers to the formation called the cabinet and the prime minister. If you do not win a general election you cannot form a government. Therefore you lose the GE you are not elected to government

> If you do not win a general election you cannot form a government.

On the contrary. All you need to form a government is some way to get a majority for Confidence, and all you'd need to make that a working government is Confidence and Supply. That's all Theresa May had, she did not win the election but she had DUP promises to vote for her on the question of confidence and where necessary for supply, and that was enough to limp on for quite some time.

The last election the second party lost by a landslide, they have no opportunity to form a government.

Of the last 4 Prime Minsters (Johnson, May, Cameron, Brown) of the UK, none of them became prime minister by heading a party who won a majority of seats at an election -- the last person to do that was Tony Blair in 1997. Before then it was Margaret Thatcher in 1979. It's an exception, rather than the rule.

Cameron did win a plurarity of seats in 2010, but his 36% of the vote wasn't enough on it's own.

It's exceedingly likely the next Prime Minister will equally be appointed without a public vote.

> The unelected Labour opposition


To give the full quote:

> The unelected Labour opposition proposed activist shills took control of the editorial policy of not just the BBC but also print media.

Really trying hard to parse

(The unelected Labour opposition)

OK, very wrong, but I think that's attempting to describe the elected labour mps in parliament

"activist shills"

I assume this means people who don't read the daily express

So I think I can parse this as

Some Labour MPs, at some point, proposed a group of people should take control of the editorial policy of the BBC and newspapers.

I'm not sure what story he's talking about though.

> Some Labour MPs, at some point, proposed a group of people should take control of the editorial policy of the BBC and newspapers.

This does indeed seem to be what this person is saying. Thanks for putting in the effort to parse, though I do have to apologise for the fact that it hardly seems to have been worth it!

So you deny it to be so?

Do you have any evidence for your claims?

Meanwhile in the real world, Charles Moor, former editor of the Telegraph, is mooted to become the chairman of the BBC and Paul Dacre, former editor of the Daily Mail, is to be head of ofcom, the media regulator.

Not exactly paragons of impartiality are they?

*failed to win the election, unelected to government

They were elected... to be the opposition. They’re the elected opposition. If they were unelected they couldn’t be the opposition.

They were not elected to government,i.e. the cabinet and office of prime minister

Right... they were elected to be... the opposition. Isn't that what we were saying?

You sound like you aren't aware that Leader of the Opposition is actually an official paid position, listed in the Ministers of the Crown Act 1937. You can only get this official position by being a member of parliament (voted in all practical modern cases and in this case), and representing the minority party.

So they're in an elected official position, sworn to the Crown, with actual responsibilities and pay, set out in concrete legislation - and that's actually pretty rare in the British constitution!

And yet, they aren't the government and in no position to implement policy.

Do you have a point of any substance to make?

I think all of these are available on piratebay. When I was into sound production, I found lots of high quality dumps there. There's way more than 16k floating around on piratebay, more like 500k+. And the quality of some of them is amazing.

Never used 'em for commercial applications, obviously, because hobby. But it's a lot of fun remixing them.

Another interesting source of sound effects are pirated games. Last of Us in particular has wonderful, stunning, horrifying sound effects, example of which I wish I'd saved.

As a kid in the 90s, whenever I played a game (particularly demo versions of a lot of games, which in that era were distributed on CDs sold with videogame magazines), I'd eventually look into its folder and search for assets. For years, I kept a collection of interesting .wav files I found in these games, because I wanted to make a video game of my own. I'd also exchange these .wavs with a friend at school, who kept his own collection for the same reason.

I vaguely remember using few sound effects from Star Trek: Generations and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith in a school play around 5th or 6th grade :). The sound of the base hangar door from Mysteries of the Sith is still etched deeply in my mind (along with surrounding dialogue).

(None one of us knew the concept of intellectual property back then.)

Well there is more in the BBC library that are commercially available, something like 30,000. A lot of which are not just short samples.

16,011 sound effects and not a single fart. There are 7 belches however (and 1 burp).

You should be able to create this by yourself. Beans are cheap.

Recording equipment, on the other hand...

Time to rent studio space!

If you do CTF competitions: http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/?cat=morse+code

Notably, the high speed morse sound was super interesting, as I might like to track down a few more samples of it.

When I drop one into this decoder, it's having trouble with it for some reason: https://morsecode.world/international/decoder/audio-decoder-...

In case you were curious, one of the morse sound effects (http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/07069047.wav a high pitched oscillator) translates to:


which seems like a cipher of some sort.

I made a Twitter bot when this first came out that tweets random sounds from this every few hours: https://twitter.com/oh_sfx. A lot of different engine noises...

At least there is more than one kind of insect cricket sound effect, rather than LA field crickets all over the world. (-:

I think these were recorded before the decline of insect populations worldwide.

Hollywood movies used to be infamous in certain circles for having the same stock cricket chirp sound effects, recorded locally, whereever in the world a movie scene was actually supposed to be. It's nothing to do with insect populations.

This one seems to sample Terry Riley's "A Rainbow in Curved Air" which came out in 1969

Martian computer - 1972 (7K, reprocessed) http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/07074134.wav

Terry https://youtu.be/hy3W-3HPMWg?t=117

Am I the only one who immediately chased down the end link and typed "Dr. Who" into the search form only to be disappointed?

Who cares if you can get a snippet of “South American parrot talking and screeching,” I can get that anywhere. Cool Dr. Who sound effects (or whatever your favorite show is) in good quality is what I think of when I see BBC sound effects.

I love the descriptions.

> School Computer Class, general atmosphere in pre-fabricated room, with hum from computers, keys clicking, occasional background speech, T.V. whistle from monitors & people moving around.

Like did it make a big difference if the classroom was pre-fabricated? Perhaps it does to a BBC sound recorder!

It does! Love it. Anyone who grew up in UK schools will know a prefab classroom hut. So from that description I immediately know what type of reverb the sound will have.

Crucially, how different it will be from eg. a high ceiling room in a brick building.

I'd say that's a great description.

We had just one of the huts left in my UK school - until IIRC the roof blew away?!

I don't remember the distinct reverb, my overriding memory is of being far too hot in summer and far too cold in winter.

Yeah we have something similar in Australia. Pretty much every school when I was growing up had these exact same portable classrooms with the distinctive shitty-looking rectangular roof. Every single school I walked past or played sports against had them too.


I would have thought they'd have something more modern looking these days. But when I Googled around this article from 3 years ago came up with some newish looking ones in the exact same style.


So I guess some things never change. At least they come in that nice blue now instead of the awful brown and green they used to use.

The inclusion of 'pre-fab', as a description is stunning. I never got to use the ones at my school (UK, 1970's) , as they were prefects only. On the two occasions I was allowed in, I detested them. And I also detested the particular acoustics - which I didn't realise at the time, but several years in pro-audio, many years later, thankfully taught me much.

I'm not sure I understand the commercial license correctly:

> Our default license includes: > 100% Royalty-Free

So, I just have to pay for the initial license, but I don't have to pay recurring fees or fees based on how many users pay for my final product?

> Commercial Synchronization


> All Media

I can use the sounds in Videos, Games, Audio Books, anything?

> Worldwide


> Unlimited Usage by 1-User

I can sell unlimited copies of my final product for any amout, but I have to work on that product alone, at least the parts that use that sounds? So this "1-User" refers to the person who works on the product, not person(s) who will use this product, correct?

This is so cool. I was just searching for a cat meow sound for a personal project today and was so annoyed that most of the top sites returned on Google and DDG were super spammy, ad-riddled atrocities. This is amazing, they have so many cat meows!

I can't figure out if its possible to download the entire archive anywhere though..


Wikipedia also has a list of list of pointers to different sites: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Free_sound_resources

These days, I wouldn't even consider any site that doesn't easily show the license of the available files. Needing to hunt for copyright information is a smell.

You can just scrape it if you wanted to; grab the src of all the <audio> elements and page through them all. Use the names/descriptions for proper naming.

I just checked; the site uses this CSV to build the UI: http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/BBCSoundEffects.csv

So no need to actually scrape; you can download the CSV and download all the individual files from that.

base url: http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk/assets/

Thanks, I used that CSV to download all the WAV files, but the final size was... very large... so I converted them all to OPUS :)

The total size is now ~17G. If anyone wants the converted files, I made a .torrent: https://tinyurl.com/y6xn8ksj

Strictly speaking, given the license fee payer funded this, they should all be free and open source anyway.

Didn't that happen a couple of years ago?

From another site I see the date March 27, 2019


Well there better be some good Dr. Who in there somewhere.

Exterminate! We are sentient beings!

I'm pretty sure the following clip was used during the break-up of the Kaled Dome by artillery fire in 'Genesis of the Daleks' (1975):


Was surprised to see ASDIC in there. Good quality too.

(ASDIC became SONAR)

Awesome news for content creators on twitch and Youtube

It a bit cheeky, not sure if youtubers can freely use those sounds and music freely in their content

It's not news, and the HappyMag headline is very misleading.

15980 are just variations of "Yakety Sax."

Non-blogspam url: http://bbcsfx.acropolis.org.uk (2018)

dang, is it possible to change the URL for this submission? The site linked loads 30+ ad slots and attempts to seemingly canvas fingerprint users.

The headline used here is misleading, too. The BBC has released this library, years ago, and the sound effects are available on terms quite similar to those of other sound effects library companies, which are not "libre", and which are augmented by some non-commercial non-endorsement requirements legally imposed upon the BBC by its Royal Charter.

Hacker News guidelines would have the title be that of the page, which is simply "BBC Sound Effects - Research & Education Space". It's HappyMag making the "clickbait" claims, not actually the BBC page.

Agree, this is not a great link.

It's not new, it's two years old and has been covered here before:


I don't know who/what "happymag" is (took too long to load so I gave up) or where they ranked yesterday but they're now the second result (after the link you posted) for BBC sound effects. The power of HN?

Judging by the date I guessed this has probably been submitted before, and it has, with similar discussion about the license/licence which renders it pretty much useless (something I've noticed before about the BBC when searching for free to use sound effects):


Particularly disappointing for an organization funded by the public to the tune of around five billion US dollars every year and when the sound effects themselves, while being interesting and potentially useful, are now ancient.

Edit: curious why this is downvoted. I thought it was interesting that being on HN might have such a drastic result on "SEO"; I posted a link to a previous discussion people might find interesting (it must be, since someone else also subsequently posted the same link); and I expressed the view that it's disappointing a very well funded public broadcaster couldn't release with fewer restrictions material that is ~35+ years old. Doesn't seem particularly controversial to me.

If you'd like dang to see this, you should email him.

> If you want to let us know about something, the only reliable way to do it is to email hn@ycombinator.com.


Touching to see some sounds that have probably almost become extinct, like the sound of 8mm film projectors.

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