Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
British Pathé Puts Over 85,000 Historical Films on YouTube (openculture.com)
254 points by jamesbritt on Apr 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 35 comments

An impressive collection to be sure. Slightly hyperbolical, the British Pathé archive puts it thusly:

"This archive is a treasure trove unrivalled in historical and cultural significance that should never be forgotten."[0]

However, I am left wondering why "[u]ploading the films to YouTube seemed like the best way to make sure of that." Perhaps fittingly, there's no clear indication which licence, if any, is applicable.

What could've possibly impeded a parallel upload to the Internet Archive?

[0] https://britishpathe.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/british-pathe-...

I don't know how much hyperbole there is in that statement, really - it's a humungous pile of material, and even if the licensing terms aren't totally clear, it's still available for anyone to watch - and moreover, on Youtube, it's available to your grandparents, your children, your technophobe cousin - anyone who owns a smartphone and has successfully watched videos of cats falling over.

Tucking it away on archive.org might have been more palatable to the likes of us, but none of the above would ever be likely to stumble across it there.

[edit: my point is, yes, it would ideally have been put in both places - but if they're only going to put it in one place, I'm happier that it's Youtube than I would have been were it archive.org]

> on Youtube, it's available to your grandparents, your children, your technophobe cousin

Youtube is not an archival website!

> anyone who owns a smartphone and has successfully watched videos of cats falling over

Youtube enables country-specific censorship and let's the media industry arbritrarily block content.

Youtube is a commercial, for-profit. It is not a company I would ever consider for archival purposes. For maximum publicity it is the logical choice though.

Pathe has their own archive which they are making available to the public using the most accessible method. Why would they upload their archive to another archive?

to avoid losing everything if their archive is destroyed.

It happened to a musician whose studio got destroyed by fire and he got most of his work back from archive.org

it's called offsite backup of some sort and it is really smart to do. Providing you want to share its content with the world, archive.org is a good place to mirror your archive.

So you are suggesting that you think Pathe has never archived their entire collection in a safe and redundant way? No offense to your strawman musician but there is quite a gulf in their approach to business.

It's rivalled by http://blog.flickr.net/en/2013/12/16/welcome-the-british-lib...

And the same argument applies - why flickr? Or at least, why only flickr? Executives not willing to give up control is the answer. It's difficult for people who generally make a living from renting access to the public to imagine releasing something in a way that they couldn't revoke later. It's a major break from that possessive thinking to even release the stuff to a third party rather than commission some monstrous UI for their own site.

If you want it in the public domain, give it to archive.org or make torrents. The public will do the uploading to youtube and flickr.

For images of historical significance, the Wikimedia Commons is a good place too. Germany's Bundesarchiv has a lot of images there:


The British Library doesn't rent its collections - it isn't a profit making body.

The British Library charges extra if you want to reprint or republish pages from their out-of-copyright books and manuscripts. They also assert new copyrights when they photograph or microfilm things.

Greg is right. I am writing a book on the history of the southwest corner of modern China and saw an exhibition in the British Museum of British Library held historical copperplate prints produced in France for a Chinese emperor in the Ming Dynasty of his campaigns in the area (eg. the spectacular tropical/karst landscape pacification of Annam, or modern day north Vietnam). There are about 5 of these things I'm interested in, and the bastards wanted ~500GBP per image to photograph them for me for research purposes, with an explicitly threatening legal statement that this would grant no republishing rights. I mean, come on! Talk about holding the world's heritage hostage!

PS. I believe they obtained the pieces by invading Beijing... on the then Qing dynasty government's ever-so-serious provocation of refusing to issue free trading rights to foreign nations, in England's case mostly to distribute vast quantities of cut-rate opium produced in slave-like conditions by its Indian subjects to the Chinese population. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Opium_War

The very nature of archive suggests they will be filed away and forgotten by most — just as much of archive.org's content already is. I personally love it but if you want people to engage with your content, that is not the place to put it. It's like the stacks versus a window display for books — either way they're accessible, but one is for keeping and the other for exposing.

Edit: I hasten to add that a parallel upload would be a great idea, and you should suggest it to Mediakraft, the company handling the material. Their work is ongoing and an archive.org page would be a highly appropriate addition.

Not true. My research suggests that once it has been archives, provided that copyright is not an issue, the material will be reused in useful ways.

see: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/mit-ec...

If they wanted people to engage with their content, they would have licensed it freely. They're just using this as free advertising for their paid licensing project.

Actually, they dont really need to upload to archive.org to make it reusable. Youtube has the option to place this material under a liberal CC license. The least they can do is change the license so that this material is then free for reuse.

Oh.. moar awesome than the patent database, most don't get that either... innovation, technology etc (?)

Everything from Flying cars...


...robotic car parks...


.. the tarring of roads...


To the imagination of science...


gravity powered generators..


something called wind energy(?)


and the miracle of democracy...


I want to know more about this gravity generator...

"It has weights that spin round and multiply the power of an 1/8 horsepower motor by 1200% - enough energy to power a town of 3,500 at a cost of £1 a month"

If it's not a wacky-looking flywheel, what was this guy's story? Something close to a perpetual motion machine?

They still do tar and chip on roads in some places. Freshly laid (or driving down it on a hot summer day), it seriously fucked up your car. Scraping that stuff out of wheel wells is no fun at all.

That last one is people in the Saar voting overwhelmingly for Anschluss with Nazi Germany.

While watching footage of when Hitler came to power, I got a pop up on YouTube to the effect of Obama wanting to take away guns & how I'd vote. It's nice they put it up on YouTube so the masses can see this amazing footage (I saw the Wright Brothers' flight for the first time there). But watching that ad pop up just drove home the point that we just traded humans for pigs to run our farm.

I use Privoxy on my devices consequently I am always surprised at the ad laden internet other people have to use. I never see youtube ads at home. The worst is when some classroom video demonstration (I'm a part time student, soon to be full time) has to wait for an ad to complete / skip.


I don't understand the people commenting that YouTube is not a proper archival tool. Obviously. They're not deleting their own copies of these films, they're just making them available to the public in an easy to use manner. Criticism of this is totally misguided.

>They're not deleting their own copies of these films

Are you under the impression that anyone thought they did?

I wish they were with the original commentaries that press used at the time they first appeared. It would allow to see those "news" through the eyes of contemporary viewers.

Here's another historical film archive: http://europeanfilmgateway.eu/

The Virginia 1967 ,reminds me of my youth when we still had a demand side economy and a thriving middle class.

Very impressive collection indeed. Now lets wait another 40 years for modern 1977-1990 collection ^_^


dl-2-mp3() {

    #download and save a youtube video, and extract MP3 audio track

 youtube-dl -x -k --audio-format mp3 $1


alias ytdl=dl-2-mp3

Saving anything in mp3 format when you have other options is dumb! mp3 is a file format with awful limitations and has been obsoleted by better formats for a good 10 years.

you can set the format to whatever you like... I was just sharing a helpful alias I use for anything on Youtube - and given that all these vids were uploaded, someone may want to use something like this to create a local archive of some vids

It's too bad that this comes across as a marketing ploy. They're still charging for licenses to actually use any of this footage in any way. They haven't actually released this material under a Creative Commons or Public Domain license, so most of it is All Rights Reserved.

At least they don't have to pay for their own hosting now, to show off their video archive!

For a history buff, having that collection for free is good enough.

how exactly do you have this collection for free ?

You need to have internet access (youtube is a streaming website remember?) and these are not free for some reason.

And each time you visit youtube you're making google money by way of advertisement (and giving away some personal info), of which a portion can go back to the uploader.

Not sure if you're being pedantic.

If being pedantic, you also forgot to mention that using the internet requires purchasing or generating your own electricity, plus the cost to buy or rent a device with which to access the internet.

In case you weren't being pedantic, what the other commenter meant by 'free' was most likely meant to be interpreted the same way as this ‘can be accessed widely at no additional montary expense than simply loading the YouTube homepage'

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact