Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Code of ethics for video preservation

Code of ethics for video preservation

From: Jim Lindner <vidipax>
Date: Wednesday, January 3, 1996
Walter Henry <whenry [at] lindy__stanford__edu> writes

>The Bay Area Video Coalition working group on ethical considerations
>in the preservation of video seeks information about any efforts to
>develop a code of ethics for this area of preservation. If anyone
>can point us to groups or individuals who have attempted to draft
>such a code, or to any discussion of such efforts, whether published
>or not, we would be most grateful.

Fortunately the video industry is a very large and robust one and
has many, many resources to read and consider if one were interested
in developing a "code of ethics".  I think that it is important to
remember that the scope of the video industry is huge, and many
activities could be considered "video preservation" and as such,
a"code of ethics" that hopes to consider these various applications
that include video preservation is extremely ambitious.  Consider,
for example, the preservation of a video that a hospital might do of
a specific medical procedure and the role it might have in potential
litigation.  Contrast this with a family preserving a wedding tape
for the viewing of future generations.  While the physical process
of copying the tape might be similar, the ethical implications are
vastly different.

Indeed, at this particular moment in time when the line between what
was video and what is computer graphics has almost disappeared,
issues such as compression become extremely interesting topics to
consider from ethical perspectives.  Image processing techniques
further complicate a subject that would have been quite simple just
a few years ago.  The good news is that there is a very large amount
of work in what would generally be considered "standards and
practices" by the professional video community (which is made up
largely of broadcasters and production facilities).  This large body
of work has served both the motion picture production and video
communities extremely well in the past.

While I am have not seen any single document specifically called a
"code of ethics" specifically for video preservation, there are many
recommended practices or RP's that have existed for quite some time
and are published by SMPTE (the Society of Motion Picture and
Television Engineers located in White Plains New York).  These RP's
are used extensively in the Television and Motion Picture industry
by labs and service organizations in general. Many engineers are
long time members of this organization, attend meetings, and receive
a very extensive amount of technical information each year.

Most of the RP's that relate to the video industry (such as SMPTE
RP103 which concerns itself with the storage and handling of
magnetic tape) are quite detailed and have been developed by working
professionals in industry and are largely followed by the video
engineering community.  Other documents detail the specifications of
a specific video format or engineering guidelines is specific areas
of video.  SMPTE is also one of the important organizations that
sets standards.

The video industry does NOT have a shortage of professional
organizations. The largest is probably the National Association of
Broadcasters whose annual convention attracts more than 75,000
people to Las Vegas each year. While the focus of NAB is not "video
preservation" per se, there is a tremendous amount of information
produced by the organization, some of which could be termed
standards and practices. There are similar RP's from the
International Teleproduction Society (ITS) in New York that relate
to other practices which are slightly less technical in nature than
SMPTE RP's and are more production oriented (such as how much bars
and tone should be on a tape and similar issues). The IEEE is
another group that has some material of interest in general in this
field.  ITVA is another organization whose members are mostly
involved in educational and corporate video.  Most of these
professional associations have general rules of behavior and some
have extensive publications and educational information including
books and proceedings.

Other than the National Association of Broadcasters, SMPTE is one of
the largest and most influential organizations in the video
industry.  They give out engineering achievement awards each year
which the manufacturers are very proud of and which are extremely
high profile.  I cannot imagine how one could do video preservation
work and not know of, refer to, and follow SMPTE RP's, standards,
and engineering guidelines.   I have been a member for quite some
time, and most of the engineering professionals in the industry are
members, or at least are very aware of SMPTE recommended practices
and where to get them.  I strongly recommend to any who are
interested to check out their web page at:

Their email address is: smpte [at] smpte__org

General info:
    "Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers
    595 W. Hartsdale Ave.
    White Plains, NY 10607-1824
    +1 914 761 1100
    Fax: +1 914 761 3115

Other organizations that may be of interest and are reachable
through the SMPTE web page are:

    AES, Audio Engineering Society
    AMPAS, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
    ANSI, American National Standards Institute
    ATM Forum, The ATM Forum is a worldwide organization, aimed at
        promoting ATM within the industry and the end user community.
    ATSC, Advanced Television Systems Committee
    BKSTS, British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society
    IEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
    IMA, Interactive Multimedia Association
    ISO, International Organization of Standardization
    ITU, International Telecommunications Union is the United
        Nations specialized agency dealing with telecommunications
    NAB, National Association of Broadcasters
    SBE, Society of Broadcast Engineers
    SIGGRAPH, Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics of the
        ACM, Association for Computing Machinery

In addition both FIAT and FIAF have major interest in video and film
preservation. Fiat/Ifta has a web page at :

Of particular interest is their handbook on the "Recommended
Standards and Procedures for Selection for Preservation of
Television Programme Material"

FIAF  has extensive information on preservation of video and its
documents which are available to FIAF members are very interesting
and include a manual on this general subject. Their web page is:

I hope this information helps the committee.

Jim Lindner
The Magnetic Media Restoration Company

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:54
                Distributed: Thursday, January 11, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-9-54-003
Received on Wednesday, 3 January, 1996

[Search all CoOL documents]