Okay people, here is one to tax your brain (or maybe not)
We are looking at binning the VCR and DVD player, and replacing them with a few terrastores (1TB storage boxes from Buffalo for anybody who did not know) and then putting all our Video and DVD content onto them.
We have tested it and it all works fine, had 40 clients streaming videos with no sound or video issues on a busy morning session, so that side is sorted. Got the media player / DVD type box that goes with it appearing next week to trial that as well for areas without PCs but TVs instead.
But, and here it is. what are the legalities of it?
I need to research them to find out before we can roll it out. The way we have set it up for a trial (before we comitt to spending £1000's on hardware, storage etc....) is a TV card on a PC, VCR connected to that, tune the TV card to the VCR and then record what comes from the VCR, then throw that onto the terrastore. We have also recorded the Shakespear re-told off BBC when they were on and put them on it.
Now I assume that as we have an ERA licence for TV recordings that we are legally covered to put them onto it, but what about our aging VHS collections which was the major aim of this setup to get shut of them and the huge cost of VCRs that we spend every year replacing aging one that chew more tapes than they play.
Has anyone done this yet and know the legal obligations?
If so I would be very keen to here from them as we want to get rolling as a few departements are keen to trial this out with us but we don't want to get going outside the IT Teaching area until we know the legal side of things.
a) speak with your RBC as a number of them also have additional copyright agreements (eg RBCs hold the Pathe copyright for your area within the NEN).
b) speak with the publisher of the video ... some of them say no to allowing you to capture the whole thing, as it can be viewed by more than one client (in full) at a time and so you should buy the relevant nuimber of copies. This is a very difficult area and the general guidance I have had so far is "if it has been shown of free to air channels then it is fair game"
c) ERA is not all encompassing. I have had to explain to our Head of PE that he cannot record Sky Sports to use in school as it is not free to air, the same with Sky One ... but I can with E4. It is worth giving them a call as they were very helpful when I was enquiring about Teachers' TV when it was first starting out ... and they had so many people make requests about Teachers' TV that Teachers' TV changed their practice and you can now access all their materials online.
d) You could always get one of the teachers to call their Union to get their lawyers to investigate ...
Tony thanks for that info, its a good starting place.
I cannot contact our RBC as we are an independant school, and I don't think Claranet will have much advice for us on that part.
I can certinaly contact the makers of the Videos, we seem to have a lot of Channel 4 and BBC stuff so its not as bad as it sounds.
I was aware of the ERA for free to air channel, and just had a read up on there site and the FTA channel stuff (bbc, C4, 5, ITV, S4C, ITV2, E4 etc) I can put that into digital format straight away so long as it has a clip at the start with the usual ERA copyright stuff that cannot be skipped so that could be easily arranged according to how we decide to access them (in testing we have been using straight access to the store, but if we write a webpage with a click through to get to them were legal for ERA covered stuff, so we could link it in with the ye olde intranet setup).
As for Teachers unions we could perhapse try and give that a go.
Another line of questioning could be Becta themselves ... it might take a few hours / days / weeks / months to get an official answer ... but once you do have it will be as official as we are likely to get.
No, no... ...get back to the technical stuff! I've heard the processing power in the Terrastation is very feeble - a mobile phone CPU i've heard said. Is the performance good? - resolution etc? Would love to know.
I had no issues at all, running Shakespear retold as well as some other footage we have put on for testing purposes (some IT videos) on 35 clients, full screen, at different points in the video with sound, whilst teaching 2 full classes of 20 machines as well and others users on site, and it was all fine, no glitches, its got the 1GB backbone to it and some smart netgear swtiches behind it so I think it should be great. Our testing was sucessful for us, as for the terras setup we have it in a RAID 5 array if that helps you, so we are not using a full 1TB of storage, its 658GB I think (or something like that its coming up with).
ERA covered stuff is sorted out so no issues there, just the other stuff to work out now.
OK, a quickie for ya to keep you all salavating at the though of no more tapes and DVDs to loose:
Buffalo Terrastore (We are using RAID 5 mode on it for data redundancy)
Buffalo LinkTheater High-Definition Wireless Media Player (I think thats the beast, but it has not arrived on my desk yet)
PC with lots of RAM and HDD space (for video capture)
Happuage USB2 TV card (elcheapo Insight offer of £35)
VCR / DVD Player (external boxes not internal stuff)
Thats it for the hardware, software is simple, basically XP Pro, and the stuff that comes with the TV card.
All I am doing is tuning the TV card to the frequency of the output from the VCR, then pressing record on the PC (will check the quality options when at work for ya) and play on the VCR, the sound loops through the sound in and out on the TV card and into the Input on the sound for the PC.
That records it all to the PCs hard drive, then we either dump it straight to a folder on the Terrastore (say IT) or import it to Windows Movie Maker to add the titling for ERA compliance to it. If we need to crop adverts out etc we use the free software thats part of the TV card, or you could use Movie Maker.
To play them, you can just navigate to them like \\terrastore\ then logon to it as a user (if your in the list) or a guest and get access to where you specify in the control options of the Terrastore. We just have navigated to the folders like you would any PC or device with visible shares on the network, then they open up in Windows Media Player, and then just play them. You could link them to your intranet pages if you want to, but I don't at present.
Also the Buffalo LinkTheater I mentioned has a built in DVD player as well as media streamer, and this should (when I have tested for sure) allow you to play your DVDs, and then browse you network (so standard servers as well as Terrastores) for media files be they music, radio, videos etc.... and that will play them just from a simple on-screeen navigational folder structure. Its wired and Wifi so its nice and easy for you to find them if you make it simple like Terrastore -> English - > Shakespeare etc.....
Hope thats of some use to people. I have e-mailed Becta as well as various video publishers that we have stuff from and awaiting there information as to the copyright aspects of the videos etc....
After a discussion we had today, we have (or we are 99% sure) the rights to create a backup copy of the tapes so this could be out backup, and of course if the original got eaten by a dodgy VCR we would have to use the backup copy, so if thats legally correct, we may have to dig out that tape eating VCR to be able to legally justify using this But I await information from BBC, CH4 and the other video publishers we have used.
Tried the composite, but it made very little improvement in the quality, probably down to the VCR I was using to be honist.
I should swap it for the one I have got on the CCTV system, £300 Sony for poor quality internal CCTV VS £45 Daewoo low quality VCR for digitising the entire video library. I really should swap them over, but the Sony is a perfect 19" Rack Mount size.....
Anyway, I will keep updating according to more info I find out, and if any publishers agree that I can digitise there stuff for our own internal useage then I will make a list of those who say yes etc as I am sure that will be helpful for others.