Following what began as a controversial political dispute in Denmark, publicly-funded talk radio station Radio24syv will shut down on October 31. Fearing that years of online archives could be lost forever, three IT experts created a project to download every show for posterity. As a result, they are now being accused of mass piracy.
First launched in November 2011, Radio24syv (Radio 24 seven) is a talk radio station funded through mandatory license fees paid by the Danish public.
On October 31, however, the station will come to an end. Earlier this year Radio24syv said it wouldn’t be applying for a fresh broadcasting license after the government insisted that 70% of its employees must live in a certain geographic location of the country.
In May a lifeline appeared when the government said that the station might be able to switch to DAB rather than FM broadcasting. Ultimately, however, that fell through after another station won the slot. So with an October 31 shutdown looming, what will happen to eight years’ worth of online publicly-funded show archives and podcasts?
Station CEO Jørgen Ramskov announced last week that he was in negotiations to preserve the archive but for some, that was an assurance that could go either way. A website, created by three IT expects called ‘Archives24syv.dk’ appeared, urging members of the public to use its systems to grab every piece of content and upload it to their servers.
“So far, no one has been able to give a clear answer as to what will happen with the eight-year-long radio archive,” the website read.
“For safety’s sake, we will get it all. It is a big task, but we help each other out. Give us your connection and use the page here to copy the files from the archive to our server.”
In total, 2,000 people joined the call for action and between them downloaded and then help store the entire station’s archives in just three days.
This conservation project was unapproved by the radio station, to put it mildly. Station chief Jørgen Ramskov declared the effort “furiously illegal”, effectively branding the entire operation as mass piracy.
“It is totally and completely pirated,” Ramskov told Mediawatch. (paywall)
“If we had been asked, we would have said no – it is a complete infringement of copyright in relation to Radio24syv, Koda [collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers], Gramex [organization for recording rights of record companies] and others with rights in the material.”
But for those seeking to ensure that the publicly-funded content wasn’t consigned to history if a deal didn’t appear, that was an unfair characterization.
“We don’t want to compete with anything Radio24syv does,” Jens Christian Hillerup, one of the project’s founders, told DR.dk.
“If we were to redistribute in the extreme, then it would have to be cleared with Radio24syv and possibly other rights holders, so I am a little shocked at what Jørgen Ramskov says.”
The website created for backup purposes is now down, having fulfilled its initial goal. However, with a clear announcement on what will happen to the archive yet to be heard, its ‘booty’ may still prove important for preservation.
A copy of Radio24syv’s archives already exists in The Royal Library in Denmark, but access is restricted to computers that are on the library’s network, as well as those at the Danish Film Institute. But that’s not broad enough access, the backup project believes.
“Of course, it’s good to have it in the library if you research media. But that’s not the way podcast media is intended to be consumed,” Hillerup said. “It is, after all, a utility art that everyone should be able to access without stepping up to the library.”
In closing, Hillerup hopes that Radio24syv will be able to reach a deal to preserve the archives so everyone can move on.
“In that case, our archive will be irrelevant, and then we will probably just delete it,” he says.
This morning, Danish media is widely covering outrage at the termination of the channel and its archive, with words like “scandal”, “incomprehensible” and “murder” being used by politicians and observers to describe its pending demise.
Maybe an 11th-hour reprieve can save it. If not, the backup will prove more relevant than ever – if anyone is brave enough to do anything with it.
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.