Category Archives: Announcements

School’s Out… Or Is It?

The recent concern around coronavirus has led to school closures in several US states and more than 30 different countries. Even when there aren’t any epidemics in progress, anything from power outages and snow days to full-blown natural disasters can shut down a school, interrupting the learning process and leaving bored children with time to fill.

The Internet Archive’s mission is Universal Access to All Knowledge, and that includes making it possible for anyone to receive a quality education, anytime, anywhere. School closures are a perfect time to take advantage of online learning—any student with an internet connection can enjoy a huge variety of books on virtually any subject, even accessing the collections of other schools and public libraries.

Alexis Rossi, Director of Collections here at the Internet Archive, has curated a list of resources that can help children continue their education outside of the classroom. If you’re facing a school closure, here’s a handy guide to help you find educational materials on a few popular subjects. And if you need resources for a topic that isn’t on this list, feel free to search the archive and spend the closure diving in to our collections!


Mythology

The oldest stories in the world still tell thrilling tales. If you’re fascinated by Isis and Osiris or want to know who first stole fire, check out this collection of books on myths and legends !


Outer Space

Did you know that it sometimes snows on Mars? Or that a day on Venus is longer than a year? This collection of books and multimedia about the cosmos contains plenty of fun facts to inspire budding astronomers.


Children’s Literature

A few years ago The New York Public Library published a list of the top 100 children’s books from the previous 100 years, a “who’s who” of childhood favorites—from Dr. Seuss to JK Rowling, from Goodnight Moon to Esperanza Rising. The best part is that most of these books are on the Internet Archive and can be checked out for free!


The American Revolution

Calling all history buffs! If you want to learn about the writers who called for independence, the spies who gathered information, the women who joined the war effort, or the everyday citizens who survived a world-changing revolution, this is the place.


1000 Black Girl Books

When 11-year-old Marley Dias noticed that her school reading list was mostly stories about “white boys and dogs”, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Marley curated a collection of 1000 books that featured black girls as the protagonists, and the Internet Archive is working hard to digitize them all so that everyone can read them. Check out the books we have so far!


Dinosaurs

Who doesn’t love learning about dinosaurs? Run with velociraptors, fly with pteranodons, and swim with ichthyosaurs with this collection of Jurassic gems!


Shakespeare

Widely considered one of the greatest writers in the English language, William Shakespeare’s works have been read by generations of schoolchildren. Since all his works are in the public domain, you can read multiple editions of them online—along with helpful notes, commentaries, and study guides!


Study Breaks

Can you make it to the Willamette Valley without dying of dysentery? Or beat Bobby Fischer in a game of chess? The Internet Archive is home to a variety of fun and educational computer games from years past, including “The Oregon Trail”, “Spellevator”, “Number Munchers”, “Grammar Gobble”, “Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess”, and “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”.

If you prefer analog activities, we also have a range of puzzles and games, coloring books, sudoku grids, and other activity books that kids of all ages can enjoy. Feel free to print and play!


Other Resources

Looking for more formal educational resources? The Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education has produced a series of lesson plans on a huge variety of subjects, from the history of Yugoslavia to the principles of economics to the basics of haiku. Take a look!

Outside of the Internet Archive, other useful educational resources include Khan Academy, PBSKids.org, and your local library’s websites (here’s the San Francisco Public Library’s kids portal).


Whether you’re facing a school closure or not, the Internet Archive is a great resource for children’s educational materials. If you want to support our mission of Universal Access To All Knowledge, click here to donate. And if you have any other suggestions for items in our collections that could be useful, leave them in the comments!

“Community Webs” Receives Additional Funding to Further Public Library Local History Web Collecting

In 2017, our Archive-It service was awarded funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for the 2-year project “Community Webs: Empowering Public Librarians to Create Community History Web Archives.” The program has been providing training and technical infrastructure for a diverse group of librarians nationwide to develop expertise in creating collections of historically valuable web-published materials documenting their local communities and under-represented communities. In response to an unexpectedly large group of applicants, and with additional internal funding, we were able to expand the cohort to a total of 28 libraries from 16 states. The launch announcement and the dedicated website have further information about the program and its progress.

We are excited to announce that IMLS has recently provided additional supplementary funding to Community Webs! The additional funding will allow us to focus on program evaluation, expansion, and strategic planning. We are very pleased to be working with the Educopia Institute in support of this work and will benefit from their vast expertise in community cultivation and program facilitation.

Over the course of the original 2-year Community Webs program, the 28 participating libraries created hundreds of archived collections totaling more than 40 terabytes of data, gave dozens of professional presentations at local and national conferences, held many public programs and patron-facing events, and attended numerous meet-ups and cohort events. As well, the program created a suite of open educational resources, online courses, and other training materials supporting digital curation skills development, local history web collecting, and community formation. Some sample collections created as part of the program include:

#HashtagSyllabusMovement by Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
LGBTQ in Alabama by Birmingham Public Library
D.C. Punk (Web) Archive by DC Public Library, Special Collections
North Bay Fires, 2017 by Sonoma County Public Library
Food Culture by Athens (GA) Regional Library System
Movimiento Cosecha Grand Rapids by Grand Rapids Public Library

The program’s website has links to each participating institution’s collections page.

We are grateful to IMLS for the additional funding to continue this popular program, excited to work with Educopia on further community development, and encourage any public libraries interested in participating to contact us.

Controlled digital lending and Open Libraries: helping libraries and readers in times of crisis

tldr; As libraries face closure across the globe because of coronavirus, millions of digitized books are now available for free to be borrowed by learn-at-home students and readers. We need more libraries to join Open Libraries to offer more copies to patrons; it’s free and easy.

openlibraries - everyone deserves to learn

In response to the global COVID-19 outbreak and related public health concerns, libraries across the nation are closing or scaling back service (see Fremont, Nebraska’s Keene Memorial Library closure; Seattle Public Library’s reduction in programs and bookmobile service).  While Overdrive, Hoopla, and other streaming services provide patrons access to latest best sellers and popular titles, the long tail of reading and research materials available deep within a library’s print collection are often not available through these large commercial services.  What this means is that when libraries face closures in times of crisis, patrons are left with access to only a fraction of the materials that the library holds in its collection.

That’s where the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, powered by controlled digital lending, can help.  We empower libraries to turn their print holdings digital, offering digitized versions of the physical books in their collection to their patrons, overcoming distance and closures.  We’ve been acquiring and digitizing millions of the most important books – school libraries, entire college libraries, books cited in Wikipedia, books assigned in courses and included in syllabi, etc. – and 1.4 million of those books are now available for anyone to check out online at archive.org for free. 

Open Libraries helps individuals & libraries alike, in the following ways:

For individuals: Individual readers have access to all of the books that Internet Archive has digitized, including 1.4 million modern books.  An Internet Archive library card is free and gives users the ability to check out 5 digitized books at a time.  Browse our collection today and start reading immediately!

For libraries: Think of Open Libraries as your digital branch library.  The 1.4 million books we’ve digitized are available for you to claim and lend to your patrons.  The process is simple: join Open Libraries and then share your library catalog with us to find out which of your books we’ve already digitized.  We’ll give you a link to those books that you can incorporate back into your catalog, helping your patrons locate these digitized books from within your library catalog and local search. Join today.

If you’d like to learn more about how libraries are using controlled digital lending, please visit our recap from last year’s Library Leaders Forum, and our 11-part series highlighting different library use cases.  Once you’re ready to start lending our titles to your patrons, please begin by filling out our simple online form.

We are ready to assist however we can.

Brave Browser and the Wayback Machine: Working together to help make the Web more useful and reliable

The Web just got a little bit more reliable.

Available today, starting with version 1.4 of its desktop browser, Brave has added a 404 detection system, with an automated Wayback Machine lookup process to its desktop browser.

By default, it now offers users one-click access to archived versions of Web pages that might otherwise not be available. Specifically we are checking for 14 HTTP error codes in addition to the 404 (page not found) condition, including: 408, 410, 451, 500, 502, 503, 504, 509, 520, 521, 523, 524, 525, and 526. 

The Web is fragile. Just as nations rise and fall, so do the Websites of your favorite news orgs, brands, companies, governments, etc. Web pages are edited and pages are taken down. Studies suggest the average life expectancy of a single Web page is anywhere from 44 – 100 days. We’ve all hit the dreaded error code 404 “Page Not Found”. Is there any hope of seeing that Web page ever again?

If you are a Brave desktop browser user, the answer is now just a click away. But first – you have to update your browser. Then see the benefits of this new feature in action by clicking on this URL.

For the past 23 years the Wayback Machine has archived more than 900 billion URLs, and more than 400 billion Web pages, and adds many hundred million more archived URLs each day. As such there is a good chance archived versions of “missing” pages you are looking for are available.

This is not the first time the Internet Archive has partnered with Brave. In 2017 we announced our support of their micropayments system and then last year we shared an update about that effort. We appreciate how Brave continues to innovate and deliver new value and services through their browser.

We are grateful for their commitment to user privacy, helping advance alternatives to the current ad-supported Web, and focusing on improving the overall Web browsing experience. We applaud Brave’s leadership in these efforts and look forward to working with them on other ways to help make the Web more useful and reliable.

While native Wayback Machine 404 support is only available via the Brave desktop browser, various Wayback Machine functionality, including 404 detection and archived URL playback, is available via browser extensions for SafariChrome and Firefox.

If you have ideas about how we can improve the Wayback Machine please share them with us via email to info@archive.org  Many of the recent features we have added are the result of suggestions from users of the service and we appreciate all feedback. Together we can help make the Web more useful and reliable.

Archiving Information on the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The Internet Archive’s Archive-It service is collaborating with the International Internet Preservation Consortium’s (IIPC) Content Development Group (CDG) to archive web-published resources related to the ongoing Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The IIPC Content Development Group consists of curators and professionals from dozens of libraries and archives from around the world that are preserving and providing access to the archived web. The Internet Archive is a co-founder and longtime member of the IIPC. The project will include both subject-expert curation by IIPC members as well as the inclusion of websites nominated by the public (see the nomination form link below).

Due to the urgency of the outbreak, archiving of nominated web content will commence immediately and continue as needed depending on the course of the outbreak and its containment. Web content from all countries and in any language is in scope. Possible topics to guide nominations and collections: 

  • Coronavirus origins 
  • Information about the spread of infection 
  • Regional or local containment efforts
  • Medical/Scientific aspects
  • Social aspects
  • Economic aspects
  • Political aspects

Members of the general public are welcomed to nominate websites and web-published materials using the following web form: https://forms.gle/iAdvSyh6hyvv1wvx9. Archived information will also be available soon via the IIPC’s public collections in Archive-It. [March 23, 2020 edit: the public collection can now be found here, https://archive-it.org/collections/13529.]

Members of the general public can also take advantage of the ability to upload non-web digital resources directly to specific Internet Archive collections such as Community Video or Community Texts. For instance, see this collection of “Files pertaining to the 2019–20 Wuhan, China Coronavirus outbreak.” We recommend using a common subject tag, like coronavirus to facilitate search and discovery. Fore more information on uploading materials to archive.org, see the Internet Archive Help Center.

A special thanks to Alex Thurman of Columbia University and Nicola Bingham of the British Library, the co-chairs of the IIPC CDG, and to other IIPC members participating in the project. Thanks as well to any and all public nominators assisting with identifying and archiving records about this significant global event.

Our Social Media is Broken. Is Decentralization the Fix?

When Jack Dorsey, founder of the very centralized social media platform, Twitter, posted this message about decentralized social media, our DWeb community took note:

Dorsey went on to enumerate the current problems with social media: misinformation and abuse; opaque, proprietary algorithms that dictate what you see and hear; and financial incentives that elevate “controversy and outrage” rather than “conversation that informs and promotes health.”  But Twitter’s co-founder and CEO also sees promising new solutions:

We agree. Much work has been done and some of the fundamentals are in place. So on January 21, 2020 the Internet Archive hosted “Exploring Decentralized Social Media,” a DWeb SF Meetup that attracted 120+ decentralized tech builders, founders, and those who just wanted to learn more. Decentralized social media app builders from London, Portland and San Francisco took us on a tour of where their projects are today.

WATCH PRESENTATIONS HERE:

Developer and writer, Jay Graber, explained the state-of-the-art in Peer-to-Peer, Federated and blockchain related social media.

The evening began with a survey of the decentralized social media landscape by researcher and Happening.net developer, Jay Graber. (See her two excellent Medium articles on the subject.) Graber helped us understand the broad categories of what’s out there: federated protocols such as ActivityPub and Matrix; peer-to-peer protocols such as Scuttlebutt, and social media apps that utilize blockchain in some way for  monetization, provenance or storage. What was clear from Graber’s talk was that she had tested and used dozens of tools, from Mastodon to Iris, Martti Malmi’s new P-2-P social app and she deftly laid out the pros and cons of each.

What followed were talks by the founders and developers from each of Graber’s categories:

Evan Henshaw-Plath (aka Rabble) was one of the earliest engineers at Twitter. He’s bringing years of startup experience to Planetary.social, his new P-2-P mobile version of Facebook.

Evan Henshaw-Plath, an original Odeo/Twitter engineer, is the founder of Planetary.social, a P-2-P mobile app that’s “an open, humane Facebook alternative” built atop Scuttlebutt. His goal with Planetary is to make an app reflecting the values of the commons, but that feels as seamless and familiar as the social apps we already use.

Flying in from London, Matthew Hodgson, founder of Matrix.org, brought us up-to-date with his open network for fully encrypted, real-time communication. With an impressive 13.5 million account holders, including the governments of France and Germany, Matrix is showing hockey-stick-like growth. But Matrix’s greatest challenge: in an encrypted, decentralized system, how do you filter out the bad stuff? By using “decentralized reputation,” Hodgson explained, allowing users to moderate what they are willing to see. Hodgson also revealed he’s building an experimental P-2-P Matrix in 2020.

With fuller control over one’s social streams comes greater responsibility. Matrix founder, Matthew Hodgson explains how each user can subscribe to trusted blacklists and eventually “greylists” of questionable content and block it.
Today’s social media walled gardens are not that different from America’s phone companies in 1900, explained tech executive, John Ryan. We are in the early days of integration.

Thought leader and tech executive, John Ryan, provided valuable historical context both onstage and in his recent blog. He compared today’s social media platforms to telephone services in 1900. Back then, a Bell Telephone user couldn’t talk to an AT&T customer; businesses had to have multiple phone lines just to converse with their clients. It’s not that different today, Ryan asserts, when Facebook members can’t share their photos with Renren’s 150 million account holders. All of these walled gardens, he said, need a “trusted intermediary” layer to become fully interconnected.

Twitter CTO, Parag Agrawal, has been tasked with bootstrapping a new team of decentralized builders called “Bluesky.”

Next  CTO, Parag Agrawal, outlined Twitter’s goals and the problems all social media platforms face. “Decentralization to us is not an end, it’s a means to an end,” he explained. “We have a hypothesis on how it can help solve these problems.” Agrawal says Twitter will be bootstrapping a team they call “bluesky,” who will not be Twitter employees, but independent. “Twitter will have very little control (over bluesky) other than our bootstrapping efforts,” he laid out.


Next up was Burak Nehbit, founder of Aether, something akin to a peer-to-peer Reddit. But here’s Aether’s secret sauce: expert moderation, with 100% transparency and communities who elect their own moderators. Aether is focused on “high quality conversations” and those users willing to roll up their sleeves and moderate them.

Aether’s founder, Burak Nehbit, is creating a P-2-P social media platform of highly curated, self-governed content, where elected moderators ensure “high quality” conversations.

And rounding out the evening was Edward West, founder of Hylo.com, an app that combines group management, messaging and collaboration built on holochainRecently Holo acquired the Hylo software and Holo’s Director of Communications Jarod Holtz explained why this union is significant for decentralized builders, including the Terran Collective‘s Aaron Brodeur and Clare Politano, who will be stewarding the Hylo project: 

Edward West of Hylo, Aaron Brodeur, Jarod Holtz and Clare Politano are joining forces as Hylo.com is acquired by Holo and “stewarded” by the Terran Collective.

From both a design and an engineering perspective, the way Hylo is structured makes it perfectly suited to being converted to run in the future as a decentralized application on Holochain. The Hylo code base will be instrumental in helping us demonstrate how a centralised app can be transformed into a distributed app.

Blockchain based social media solutions, including Bevan Barton’s Peepeth built on Ethereum and Emre Sokullu of Pho Networks, gave overviews of their work at lightning speed. After the Meetup, Sokullu penned this article explaining how Pho can serve as a programming language to build decentralized applications. 

From federated to blockchain and gradations in between, decentralized social media is taking flight.  And on one winter night in San Francisco, builders of wildly diverse projects came together at the Internet Archive to demonstrate how far they’ve come—and the long road ahead.


Libraries and Publishing Now– Viva la Library!

Readers consume publisher’s products many hours every day– and consume on publisher’s terms. Publisher’s framing on our screens, publisher’s business models, publisher’s flow and pacing. Yes, there are many publishers now, but we are, mostly, locked into their presentation forms. We check into their black box theaters and consume as intended.

Libraries have always bought publisher’s products but have traditionally offered alternative access modes to these materials, and can again. As an example let’s take newspapers. Published with scoops and urgency, yesterday is “old news,” the paper it was printed on is then only useful the next day as “fish wrap”– the paper piles up and we felt guilty about the trash. That is the framing of the publisher: old is useless, new is valuable. This has carried into social media– flip up to read on. Scroll through your “feed” (gosh, the word “feed” is illustrative, what happens after “feed” is “fed”?  Well, it comes out the other end in a way we do not cherish 🙂 ).

But a library gives old news a new life, not a commercial life, but a life that encourages reflection, perspective, critique, analysis. In a word– “History”. The library keeps the former “news” and offers it in new ways in a new framing, with new tools– not just flip flip flip. It can be quoted, placed side by side with other publisher’s news and enable researchers to inject commentary.

This capture, representation, searching, rethinking is not a crime– it is thought, it is memory and our history– it builds to become our culture. It has been supported, nurtured, taught.

But the library is in danger in our digital world. In print, one could keep what one had read. In digital that is harder technically, and publishers are specifically making it harder. Technical enforcement measures and laws are making remembering difficult, and worse, a crime.

Libraries live to offer new ways to see published works that were often produced for a different purpose. But this is difficult in a digital world.

Digital newspapers sometimes disappear from their web presence. App-based newspapers can not be pointed to with a citation or URL. Archives, sometimes available, are segmented into each publisher’s platforms.

Similarly, digital books live in proprietary digital book readers that disappear the books. If “cut and paste” functions at all, often just inside that “platform.” Annotations are stored with the vendor, with their terms and conditions.

A personal library now means a purchase list on a website.

Libraries and publishers have lived together throughout the paper era, not always peacefully, but libraries were possible because of paper technologies, laws, and funding. Multiple copies were kept in different libraries ensuring preservation and creating different access modes for different communities.

Once publications became electronic, preservation and access became harder. Radio and television did not fit into the library mold. Early tele-text, Lexis-Nexis, Westlaw, and AOL really did not work as library collections in traditional libraries. Academic journal publishing shifted to digital and libraries moved to serve as customer service departments for leased database access.

Some of us helped build the Internet so digital works could be archived and “libraried”. And then made archives of Web pages and created services around them.

But it turns out that few of us did this, and the biggest, Google, did it privately and for profit.  The Internet Archive was created to help and has archived billions of Web Pages, millions of hours of TV and radio, millions of books, records, movies and software.

Most traditional libraries have done little to preserve digital materials. The Internet Archive is quite unique in focusing on this mission and I would say under supported. Encouraging, however, is that 100,000 individuals a year now donate to support the Internet Archive’s public services. Hope is there.

We need libraries of digital materials, tools to use these libraries, and ways to protect them, fund them and integrate them into schools and our lives more generally. This way we can remember, think, and build on the past.

With so much in digital form, and storage and communication so easy, it should be the librarian’s day!  It can be the library user’s day…

Let’s build that world… of preservation and access, of reflection and critique, with confidence that what happened actually happened so that our histories can rely on immutable evidence.

Libraries do not command the world, but libraries are necessary in the functioning of a thoughtful world.

Thank you for supporting the Internet Archive.

Viva la Library!

Lawrence Lessig: Being a Citizen is a Public Office, too

In his latest book, Harvard law professor, Lawrence Lessig, issues a call to arms to fix our broken body politic–starting with “us.”

Why, you might wonder, is a famous Harvard Law professor and the founder of Creative Commons writing a book to wake us up to the fundamental problem facing our republic?

The simple answer:  Aaron Swartz.

Swartz, the free culture activist, and Lawrence Lessig were friends and collaborators. As Lessig recounted here in February, one day, Swartz came to visit him, challenging Lessig to combat the basic corruption of our political process. “But Aaron, it’s not my field, corruption. My field is internet, culture and copyright,” Lessig protested. Swartz countered, “As an academic? What about as a citizen?”

Photos by Patrick T. Power

That was in 2006. Thirteen years later on on a drizzly December night in San Francisco, Lawrence Lessig came to the Internet Archive where Swartz once worked, to frame the core flaw in our republic in a new way. It forms the central argument of Lessig’s latest book, They Don’t Represent Us. The “they” is of course our Congress—who aren’t representing our interests. “And Us. We the People. We don’t represent us,” he said to an audience of 300 listeners. 

Lessig began with a lesson in historical time. In Silicon Valley time, 20 years is an epoch—the Googlian Era one might call it. But in government, Lessig contrasted, 20 years can add up to nothing. Twenty years ago, he noted, climate change was acknowledged to be man-made and real; the Clinton administration proposed affordable health care; the mass shooters at Columbine killed 13 people. And two decades later, our government has passed not a single law that comprehensively addresses climate change, universal health care or gun control.  

Why? Because our elected representatives aren’t representing us. With the precision of a surgeon, Lessig took the stage to perform an autopsy on our body politic. Our diseases are well known: gerrymandering that empowers the political extremes, campaign funding that empowers the wealthy, the media that feeds us whatever sells best.

18 years ago, Lessig helped found the Creative Commons, a fundamental tool in making some creative works available for reuse—a foundation upon which of Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive is built.

And yet, Larry Lessig says he is hopeful. “You know my brand.  My brand is pessimism. But I am optimistic.” In the coming election year, he reminds us that “being a citizen is a public office.” Even though the election will most likely be a “dumpster fire,” he told me, “We must steer the conversation beyond 2020, to more fundamental issues.” 

Lessig’s critique stands above party or personality. He urges us to challenge every candidate, blue or red, by saying:  “Tell me how you are going to fix this problem first, this corrupt system, first,” he said “If we are going to fix anything else, we have to take up that fight.”

To get involved, visit https://equalcitizens.us/

Read the New York Times review of “They Don’t Represent Us” here.

I’m Done Selling Sweaters. Instead I’m Selling a Vision I Believe In.

Jenica Jessen, Email Campaign Specialist at the the Internet Archive
Jenica Jessen, Email Campaign Specialist at the the Internet Archive

Eight months ago, I was miserable.

On paper, it seemed like everything should be going right. I was working long hours at a promising startup in a rapidly growing industry. My job was to use cutting-edge digital marketing technology to optimize email content; I worked to find the most compelling language possible, to tap into the phrasing and rhetoric that would inspire people and drive them to action. I was learning the craft of perfect subject lines and clickable links, honing my skill set, polishing my resume.

And I hated it.

My emails went to tens of millions of people, but I wasn’t really communicating with any of them. My carefully-tested copy drove thousands upon thousands of purchases, but I wanted to care about something more than some corporation’s bottom line. I was working with some of the most advanced communications tools in the world—and I was using them to sell sweaters.

That wasn’t me.

Let’s go back a decade or so. The high school I attended wasn’t especially distinguished. Our football team was mediocre; our debate team didn’t win championships. The one thing that Riverton High was good at—the thing that made us unique—was Silver Rush.

Riverton High School students caroling in 2010 (courtesy of Jenica’s yearbook).

Silver Rush was our annual holiday fundraiser. (The name was a play on “gold rush;” our mascot was the silverwolf.) Every year, we would pick a charity that helped underserved members of our community: newly-arrived refugees, homeless teens, domestic violence victims. The whole month of December was dedicated to raising money for them. And at that, we excelled.

The great thing about Silver Rush was that it brought the whole school together, and everyone found ways to help out. The choir had a benefit concert. The food science class sold baked goods. The track team did a “fun” run in 20-degree weather. I shoveled snow in exchange for donations, and sang holiday songs outside the local grocery store, and gathered spare change. There were so many events and volunteer opportunities that most nights, I didn’t get home until 8 or 9 PM (and that was before homework). For me and my classmates, the whole month of December dissolved into a cocoa-fueled haze of sleep deprivation, caroling, and the camaraderie that comes from advancing a good cause.

A lot of other schools in the area tried to emulate Silver Rush. Our biggest rival, Bingham High, had a perennial goal of raising more money than we did. But the attempts to create a rivalry missed the point entirely, because the thing that made Silver Rush great was that we weren’t competing with anybody.

Our slogan was “It’s not about the dollars, it’s about the change.” Everyone took it to heart—and the first proof was that nobody knew how much we’d raised until after the fundraiser was over. We weren’t trying to show off; we weren’t trying to prove anything; we were trying to make the world a better place. My senior year we set a new record, raising over $129,000 for children who needed wheelchairs.

A Riverton High School student seeing the final amount Silver Rush raised in 2012.

But it wasn’t the numbers that made Silver Rush the highlight of my high school years. It was the feeling of making a difference.

So by the time 2019 rolled around, as I was working for that digital marketing firm, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d lost my way somehow. I was creating campaigns that earned millions of dollars at a time, but each big win felt a little empty. I couldn’t shake the sense that there was more that I could—should—be doing to give back to society. And I was so sick of writing subject lines about sweaters.

So seven months ago, I applied for a job at the Internet Archive.

What I found at the Archive was something radically different from the world of marketing startups. It was a team with a vision—not of venture capital funding and IPOs, but of a great library for all. It was work with a purpose—not synergy or hypergrowth, but preservation, education, accurate information. And it was an organization that survived not on e-commerce but on people’s goodwill—the dedication of countless volunteers, archivists, librarians, and programmers, as well as thousands of donors big and small.

December at the Internet Archive is a busy time. We launch our end-of-year fundraising drive right around Thanksgiving, and chaos ensues. Everyone is scrambling to make sure that our donation systems work and our banners are up to date, that the letters are sent and the events are organized, that the checks are counted and the newsletter goes out on time. The days are a haze of coding, camaraderie, and—yes—sleep deprivation. This month, I’ve been working long hours; I’ve been trying to craft perfect subject lines; I’ve been looking for ways to inspire people and drive them to action. And I couldn’t be happier.

Just a few of the Internet Archive team members who’ve pitched in to help with fundraising this year.

If you’ve seen an Internet Archive email in your inbox lately—a newsletter or an event announcement or a donation request—I’m the one who put it there. I’m done selling sweaters. I’m selling a vision instead.

It’s a vision of a world without disinformation, a world where verifiable facts are just a click away. It’s a vision of a great library for all, where the best that humanity has ever produced is freely available. It’s a vision of universal access to all knowledge.

So far this year, thousands of people have joined in supporting that vision, chipping in a few dollars to keep the servers running and the lights on. And it’s a privilege to read your comments, and hear your stories, and see the direct impact that your support has on the mission of the Archive.

My favorite moment, so far, came near at the beginning of our fundraising drive, when I happened to check the donations tally. The number is constantly changing, but for one brief moment, I saw it hit exactly $129,000. The same amount we raised for Silver Rush during my senior year of high school.

And for that moment, it felt like the entire world had lined up just right—like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.


If you’d like to contribute to the Internet Archive, please visit archive.org/donate. You can also show your support by getting the word out on social media or telling your friends and family about our work. We’re grateful for everyone in our community—we couldn’t do it without you.

The Public Domain Line is Moving Again – One Year Later

Guest post by Professor Elizabeth Townsend Gard

When I was about 20, I fell in love with the love of Vera and Roland, British youth that loved to chat and write about books, Oxford, and love. Roland would go to war. Vera would go to Oxford. They would meet a few times, kiss a few times, and get secretly engaged. He had leave at Christmas 1915. She waited by the phone. His sister called instead. Roland had been killed a few days earlier. Vera was never the same. She became a nurse, and she would write about Roland, her brother, and their two friends, along with her own experiences for the rest of her life. For a long time, she was the only woman recognized as writing about the Great War. I sought to find other women’s stories and compare them to the stories of men. And I did. But I also ran into copyright issues that drove me to law school, to study duration of copyright, and to wait. The wait took over 20 years, but the opening of the U.S. public domain will now be in its second year. Books from 1923 came into the public domain last year, and books from 1924 come into the public domain as of 2020.

Scholars, and especially biographers, have choices: get permission from the families of copyrighted works, rely on fair use, or use public domain works. When I started my dissertation, most of the works I was using as a World War scholar, looking at the war generation writing throughout the 20th century about their experiences (although I didn’t know it), were in the public domain. But before I filed my dissertation, the world had changed. In 1996, foreign works that had previously been in the public domain were suddenly restored by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, including most of Vera Brittain’s works. In 1998, the Copyright Term Extension Act was passed, freezing the public domain for 20 years. I would be hooded in the Spring of 1998.

When I started my work, many of the books from the 1920s had come into the public domain because they didn’t have proper © notice, or they weren’t renewed in their 27th year. But as of 1996, that was no longer true with the foreign works that were still under copyright in their home country. This included Vera who had all of her works restored, even the ones no one really cared or knew about. Most who were writing about the war had survived through 1918, and many of the great artists and authors lived until the 1970s. All of their works were restored automatically. For a European historian, the world was quite bleak. All of our source materials for the most part were restored and therefore not easily included in scholarly articles and dissertations.

Now, as of 2019, the world is moving again. Works from 1923 were released into the public domain last year. That included Vera Brittain’s The Dark Tide (1923), published in England. And now, her second novel, Not without Honour (1924) comes into the public domain in 2020. The war generation books, generally published 1925-1932 will soon be flooding our public domain. And this matters tremendously.

While Internet Archive has many books that are available through their lending system—books that we have access to and read, and while Section 108(h) allows libraries to copy and disseminate non-commercially available books in the last twenty years of their term, this does not allow scholars the freedom to use the books without fear of threats, or use of more than a judge might think acceptable under fair use. This is particularly problematic for biographers, who tend to rely on some sources in ways that families may threaten with a lawsuit (think the Schloss case with the Joyce estate) or publishers that may feel uncomfortable relying on fair use.

In the last twenty years, fair use has developed into a robust tool. Maybe that was partly because the published public domain was frozen? And we’ve taken strides in Best Practices and other means to make fair use vibrant and usable. Much of the work that I was doing would clearly be covered under fair use today. The world is very different from when I was writing about Vera Brittain and her ghosts in the 1990s. I would probably not have gone to law school. But it is still important that works come into the public domain, and that’s the story we are here to tell.

And so, on the second anniversary of the opening of the public domain again, I am re-reading The Dark Tide and Not Without Honour, and looking forward to the books that should shortly come into the public domain in the future. I’m also very excited to sift through the Internet Archive collection for hidden gems – books written in 1923, 1924, and even anticipating the new additions in 2021 from 1925. Oh, the possibilities!

Here’s some of the works I’m particularly excited about, that are part of the war generation, Vera’s generation that I studied so long ago:

  • Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit (1924) and Poriot Investigates (1924) (she learned about poisons while working as a nurse in the war, and her husband, Archie Christie flew planes);
  • Winifred Holtby (Vera’s best friend), The Crowded Street (1924),
  • A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young (1924) and we get the first appearance of Pooh in the poem “Teddy Bear” (1924) (Milne was also in the Great War), and
  • The first novel of Ford Maddox Ford’s Parade’s End series, titled Some Do Not, to name a few.

And it’s not just novels and poetry, its art. Käthe Kollwitz’s War series, 1923 also came into the public domain last year.

A Chasm: US versus the rest of the world

Because of our nutty U.S. system – for works first published before 1978, the term is 95 years from publication, many foreign works will be in the public domain for many years in the United States before they are out of copyright in their home country. Take, David Jones’ “The Garden Enclosed” (1924).

Currently the photograph of David Jones’ painting found on the Tate website has the following copyright information: © the estate of David Jones/Bridgeman Images. You have to license the use. But as of January 1, 2020, the work is in the public domain in the U.S., and so you do not have to get permission to use the painting or an image of the painting. It will remain under copyright in Great Britain through 2044.

But the joy of the public domain in the U.S. is more than the great works; it is also the ephemera – the photographs in newspapers, postcards, films and so much more that have been locked up because they were restored as foreign works. All of these works are now coming into the public domain, and it is glorious. As of January 1, 2020, any work published anywhere in the world before 1925 is in the public domain in the United States.

One of the best features of the Internet Archive is that you can add a filter to any search of the publication year. So, as you search, check “1924”. It doesn’t matter whether the works were published here or in the US, whether they were renewed or had proper notice. They are now in the public domain in the U.S. for all to enjoy unfettered and without restriction.

So, I encourage you to go play on the Internet Archive site and around the world in search of new public domain treasures. Just remember, these works are in the public domain in the U.S. They may be (and likely are) still under copyright in other places around the world.

Elizabeth Townsend Gard holds a Ph.D in European History from UCLA, and is a Professor of Law at Tulane University, where she focuses on the intersection of law and culture, and in particular the role of law in creativity in copyright and trademark. Her work includes the invention of the Durationator, and the host of the popular research podcast, Just Wanna Quilt, exploring the art, craft and copyright of an industry. She is currently a Lepage Entrepreneur Faculty Fellow at the A.B. Freeman School of Business, and the Greenbaum Fellow at the Newcomb Institute, both at Tulane University.  For more information on the Durationator and determining copyright can be found at www.durationator.com.