Case Studies/ABC Pool

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Pool is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s online experimental collaborative media publishing platform where contributors can share content, connect with people and grow ideas across the globe.

Creative Commons licences assisted us to facilitate community media co-creation and sharing. — John Jacobs, Pool developer and media arts practitioner/activist


Pool is an experimental collaborative online media platform under development by the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), in association with various Australian tertiary institutions and members of the digital media community. The initiative began in 2007 under the administration of ABC Radio National. It has been developed with the assistance of University of Technology Sydney, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and University of Wollongong, and received feedback from various digital media workers and artists acting as beta testers. The project aims to foster local, regional and university partnerships with the ABC and promote Australia’s burgeoning creative digital industries.

The Pool website has been designed to operate as an online community to facilitate the sharing of a variety of media, in a manner primarily connecting the creative content community with the ABC. Contributors can publish, download, remix and share media in such forms as:

  • Film and video
  • Music and audio
  • Visual art and photography
  • Animation
  • Design
  • Interactive media
  • Website design; and
  • Text.

The site also contains a forum where ideas can be shared and relationships forged. Artists can use Pool as a place to connect and collaborate on common creative projects, as well as build community interest in the digital industries.

Having recently concluded its initial trial, the project is still in the research and development stages. Pool is due for re-launch in April 2008 and will continue to progress as its userbase expands. While Pool’s content was accessible by the public during the trial, content contributions were by invitation only. The official site will extend contribution rights to the Australian public.

Importantly, because Pool is part of the ABC it is subject to ABC editorial policies and guidelines. This means that although contributors are encouraged to voice their views, this must occur in a manner where all members of the community are treated respectfully. To this end the site must publish content based upon four fundamentals: honesty, fairness, independence and respect, (ABC Editorial Policies).

In December 2007, Pool was commissioned for a further six-month development cycle. At present the Pool team continue to call for comments and suggestions relating to the operation and direction of the project. Meanwhile the experiment continues to shape the future of public media.

License Usage

The Pool trial has adopted two Creative Commons licences under which contributors can choose to publish their content. Currently all content uploaded to the site is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivative 2.5 Australian licence, unless contributors choose to allow derivative works. The Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 licence facilitates this. It is anticipated that in the near future the Pool site will increase the choice of licence models available.

When contributors were offered the choice of allowing derivatives of their content during the trial, most chose non-derivative licences. It is assumed contributors are wary of allowing their work to be altered or remixed, as most wish to guard their artistic integrity. In moving towards promoting greater collaboration and creative interactions, the Pool team intend to embed an education process into the licensing system to better equip users in determining which licence is best for them. As the site technology develops, the inclusion of in-built licence selection features should further assist contributors in determining which licence is most suitable to their needs.


Pool aims to widen the scope of creator and consumer experience, create new audiences, uncover opportunities and encourage innovative and enriching teaching and learning processes. Creative Commons licences offer a clear path towards facilitating these goals. Media co-creation and sharing has been a founding concept for the project, leading the Pool team to choose Creative Commons as the licensing system that could best enable such interaction, while allowing contributors to retain creative control over their works.

As the ABC keeps pace with evolving media landscapes and continues to emphasise their underpinning ethos as a publicly funded non-commercial organisation, Creative Commons have assisted the Pool team in presenting alternative public licensing solutions to the broadcasting organisation.

As a small initiative within a large public institution, Pool collaborated successfully with Creative Commons Australia to trial open-content licensing models to the greater ABC collective. Not having to internally generate ABC-specific licences conserved project resources and provided Pool with an external licensing model with which to demonstrate the capabilities and benefits of open-content licensing to the ABC. The Pool trial has confirmed the community’s interest in ‘some rights reserved’ licensing and demonstrated the importance of promoting educated uses of CC licences on the site to ensure a wider uptake in the future of the project.