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From betamax to bytes

Thursday, 16 February 2012


  • ECU Library, Mount Lawley Campus

    ECU Library, Mount Lawley Campus

ECU’s archive of documentaries and teaching films, all on obsolete betamax tapes, is now commercially available on DVD and via internet streaming following an agreement with Kanopy.

Library Services, with the support of the commercialisation team within ORI, have recently agreed a distribution arrangement for historical video footage from ECU’s old Media Production Unit.

ECU Librarian Mr David Howard realised the wider commercial potential for ECU’s Media Production Unit archived material.

 “The Media Production Unit at ECU was disbanded a number of years ago, but it made many interesting documentaries, some specific to ECU but others of a more general nature, for example on Aboriginals’ Memories of Schooling,” Mr Howard said.

“We frequently receive requests from other academic institutions to use this material, and in the past we have generally provided copies free of charge.

“This has involved us transferring individual titles from the existing format of beta tapes to the more usable DVD formats, but there is still a legacy of material that is only on beta tapes and we run the risk of losing this forever as the medium degrades over time.”

The library has now signed a distribution agreement with WA-based company Kanopy, the leading supplier of DVD and online video to Australian and NZ Tertiary Libraries.

All ECU’s titles are now available in Kanopy’s catalogue in either a DVD or streamed format. This is expected to raise awareness of the materials in the academic sector and lead to increased demand.

Kanopy will pay ECU a royalty on any sales made, which will help fund conversion of the remaining material to DVD, preserving an important part of ECU’s heritage.

ECU Research Commercialisation Manager Roger Plumb said:“Kanopy are an ideal partner for ECU and we are extremely pleased to have an agreement in place. It will ensure this material reaches a larger audience and help us to protect our unique insights into the history of ECU and Western Australia.”

Kanopy’s Managing Director, Olivia Humphrey, says she is delighted to represent ECU’s important collection of archival video material which is relevant to a variety of faculties.

“Kanopy’s online videos are available to more than 1 million Australian staff and students, so we hope to be able to assist ECU in the promotion and subscription of these valuable resources to the wider Australian community.”

The 1905 Act is just one title in the historical collection and can be viewed here.  

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