A decision to cut BBC Online’s budget by a quarter over the next 2 years with the loss of 360 staff is set to completely wipe out more than 170 websites this year. In an attempt to show just how cheaply this valuable history could be kept alive, a BitTorrent user armed with a sub $4 seedbox has made all of them available in a single torrent.
In late January the BBC confirmed that due to a 25% budget reduction it would be axing 360 jobs by 2013. The cuts, which dig deep into BBC Online, mean that half of this international broadcaster’s websites will not only stop being updated, but will disappear offline forever.
Well, not quite.
An officially anonymous BitTorrent user (who TheNextWeb believe may be called Ben Metcalfe) has set out to prove that the websites in question can not only be saved for posterity, but also at a super cheap price.
“As time goes on, the on-going cost of storing this website data decreases – to the extent that it is practically nothing by today’s costs,” he explains.
“The purpose of this project is to show how the entire 172 public facing websites that are earmarked for deletion have been copied, archived, distributed and republished online – independently – for the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee (around $3.99).”
The anonymous user says that he embarked on his mission to save the websites at almost zero cost to “expose the ‘cost savings’ of this proposed exercise as nothing more than a charade to appease the detractors to a strong BBC and to curry favour with the current government.”
Of course, since this is TorrentFreak, it will be no surprise to any of our readers that when people want to copy, archive and distribute digital data with a tiny financial outlay, there is no better mechanism online than BitTorrent. This task is no exception.
Once the individual discovered that the BBC would be deleting the 172 websites, he began spidering them and ripping their content to a VPS server, purchased for the bargain price of $3.99. This seedbox is hosting the content which is all neatly wrapped up in a torrent for anyone to download and share.
“Contained within this torrent is a gzip tarball of each site, archived individually, allowing you to download just the site(s) you are interested in,” explains the site ripper.
He adds that he would like to see people continue to seed the torrent so that the sites can continue to exist after the BBC finally scraps them, adding that people may even be able reconstruct and host all or some of the sites.
This is not the first time a whole bundle of sites have been saved with BitTorrent distribution. Last year a huge torrent weighing in at more than 641 GB hit the net which linked to the entire archive of Geocities sites which were eventually shut down by Yahoo.