Copyright vs accessibility – the challenge of exploitation

Springbok Radio was the first and, in the 1950s, only commercial radio station of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). It closed down in 1985 amidst the arrival of SABC TV and other competition, without much of its content preserved by the SABC. Very little documentation survived the closing of the station. The SABC Radio Archives has been battling with access to and copyright of the collection for many years.
The Springbok Radio Preservation Society (SRPS) centralised the material collected over the years by various collectors, and kept the memory of Springbok Radio alive via a website and live web streams. The almost cult-like following of Springbok Radio resulted in a unique relationship between the Society and the SABC. The full collection and rights to the exploitation of the content were handed back to the SABC in a unique agreement between the SABC and the SRPS in 2012.
Numerous challenges arose in making the collection accessible and audible to an audience that did not want to forget Springbok Radio and to a potential new audience who enjoyed old time radio, of which copyright, especially re commercials, has been the most difficult. Exploitation of the material, fuelled by the belief that any old radio material is only as valuable as the ears it reaches and the memories it awakens created further demands regarding digital and/or web-based exploitation. The lack of staff, funding and information hampered the work of the Radio Archives severely, which is affected by legal requirements, technological shortcomings, and the actual archiving of the material.
This paper will seek answers to the question of copyright where no information exists, exploitation where funding, staff and time fall short, and the question of actual ownership. How do we make the past available to the future for futures to come?

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Ilse Assmann
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