The Government of Canada continues to consider fundamental changes to its copyright laws. In its latest proposal, what’s old is new again, as Canada once more considers automatic content filtering online. Internet Archive Canada strongly opposes these proposals, and submitted a formal response to the Government explaining why.
Unfortunately, these are not new ideas. For over a decade, website blocking, automatic content filtering, internet bans, and other draconian copyright measures have been urged on governments around the world. With political leaders looking at large technology companies with a new eye, both the United States and the European Union have expressed a new openness to these previously rejected ideas. Now styled as attempts to reign in “big tech,” what is really at stake is the free and open internet, which offers so much to the individual user and makes websites like archive.org possible.
Fortunately, while the Government has outlined a variety of potentially troubling changes to Canada’s Copyright Act, it has also stated that “[s]ignificant changes” to Canada’s copyright law are “not presently being contemplated.” In the circumstances, Internet Archive Canada is simply asking the Government to recognize the tremendous significance of these kinds of proposals and refrain from enacting them at this time. Many others have done the same; indeed, our friends at Open Media asked all Canadians to voice their concerns .
Internet Archive Canada is proud of its history in Canada, and we have often lauded Canada’s bright and positive approach to copyright. We are hopeful that reason will once again prevail in the Canadian copyright debates, and that the Government of Canada will work to ensure good copyright policy and strong libraries in the 21st century and beyond.
The Internet Archive is seeking applicants for its next cohort of Community Webs! We are thrilled to announce that the program is now open to additional cultural heritage organizations in the US, as well as any public library or local memory organization in Canada and internationally.
Community Webs provides infrastructure and services, training and education, and professional community cultivation for public libraries and cultural heritage organizations to document local history and the lives of their communities. Launched in the US in 2017 with kickoff funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Community Webs began expanding nationally in 2020 with generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Building on the program’s success and continued growth, Internet Archive is now supporting expansion of the program into Canada and to the international community, and is accepting applications for our next cohort kicking off in late-Summer 2021. The deadline for applications is August 2, 2021.
The program offers a unique opportunity for participating organizations to build capacity in digital collecting. Community Webs participants work alongside peer organizations and with their local communities to document the lives of their citizens, marginalized voices, and groups often absent from the historical record. All Community Webs participants receive:
A guaranteed multi-year free subscription to the Archive-It web archiving service, which includes perpetual storage and access provided by the Internet Archive.
Access to additional Internet Archive non-profit services, such as digitization and digital preservation, either for free (as funding allows) or at or below actual cost.
Training and educational resources related to digital collections, web archiving, digital preservation, and other topics, as well as access to a cohort community pursuing similar work and to networking spaces, events, and knowledge sharing platforms.
The option to leverage program partnerships and integrations to include community web archives in other aggregators or access platforms beyond Internet Archive.
The program currently includes over 100 public libraries from across the United States. These organizations have collectively archived over 70 terabytes of web-based community heritage materials. Some highlights include:
The benefits of the program are wide-ranging and impactful for both participants and their communities. As Community Webs member Makiba J. Foster of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Broward County, Florida stated during a recent Community Webs event, Archiving the Black Diaspora, “Community Webs provided me with the training, they provided me with the cohort support, […] provided me with services, and particularly it helped to develop an expertise for me in terms of creating collections of historically significant web materials documenting our local communities.” The program “allowed me to start a project of recovery and documentation of digitally born content related to the Black experience.” More information about what Foster and other Community Webs members are up to can be found by viewing our recent program announcements.
Find out more about the program and keep up to date by visiting the Community Webs website. Apply online today and spread the word!
When professor Jason Luther wants students in his Intro to Writing Arts class to learn about multimodal composition, he has them go to the Internet Archive for inspiration.
Students peruse 78rpm records going back to the early 20th century to find just the right one for their assignment. There is no lack of material with more than 300,000 recordings from 1898 through the 1950s preserved. They are available to the public because of the collaborative Great 78 Project.
Although the students are enrolled at Rowan University in New Jersey, many are participating remotely from their homes this year because of the pandemic, and the materials are conveniently available digitally to them from anywhere.
“If the [Great 78 Project] didn’t exist, I don’t think I would have this curriculum at all,” said Luther, assistant professor for Writing Arts in the Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts at Rowan. “What I really like is the research challenge. It’s really powerful. So many times students have recovered the lost histories of these songs.”
Luther developed the project in 2018 as part of the “Technologies and Future of Writing” module in the writing course. Students have just eight classes to complete the 1-3 minute podcasts, in which they learn to master a mix of audio tools and editing skills using Audacity and WordPress. The course covers issues of compatibility and ownership, along with instruction on the economy of writing like a critic about lyrics and culture. For one recent class session, he invited Liz Rosenberg of the Archive to be a guest speaker and talk about the organization’s work and the Great 78 Project.
In the future, Luther said he would like to find more ways to incorporate some of the Archive’s collection into his curriculum. For instance, he may have students use primary source documents from independent publishers over time to craft something tangible, such as an actual history from those materials that could be passed along. “That’s one of the neat things about accretion,” he said. “We have the creativity, but then there’s also documents on the Archive that are helping us understand the 78s themselves. It’s such a vast resource.”
Incorporating materials from the Internet Archive into your course curriculum is easy. Each semester we hear from instructors doing so worldwide. Let us know how you are weaving Internet Archive media into your classes by writing to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t know how to celebrate the end of your quarantine? Come join us in commemorating the Re-Opening of California with a small-scale outdoor BBQ at the Internet Archive featuring music from the consciousness-expanding San Francisco Airship. FREE!
Please join us on June 14th at 11am PT for a virtual book talk with Richard Ovenden, about his book Burning the Books: A History of the Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge, which has been shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize.
Richard Ovenden is Bodley’s Librarian at the University of Oxford, the senior executive officer of the Bodleian Libraries, a position he has held since 2014. His previous positions include Deputy Head of Rare Books at the National Library of Scotland, the Head of Special Collections and Director of Collections at the University of Edinburgh, and he held the Keepership of Special Collections at the Bodleian from 2003 to 2011, when he was made Deputy Librarian. He has been active in both the worlds of rare books and the history of photography, serving as Chairman of the Rare Books and Special Collections Group of CILIP, and Secretary of the Scottish Society for the History of Photography. He is currently a Trustee of the Kraszna Kraus Foundation, and of Chawton House Library. He is the author of John Thomson (1837–1921): Photographer (1997) and co-editor of A Radical’s Books: The Library Catalogue of Samuel Jeake of Rye (1999) and has contributed essays to the Cambridge History of Libraries, The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, and the History of Oxford University Press.
Abby Smith Rumsey is a writer and historian focusing on the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in all media. She writes and lectures widely on analog and digital preservation, online scholarship, the nature of evidence, the changing roles of libraries and archives, and the impact of new information technologies on perceptions of history, time, and identity. She is the author of When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping our Future (2016). Rumsey served as director of the Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia and has advised universities and their research libraries on strategies to integrate digital information resources into existing collections and services. For over a decade, Rumsey worked with the Library of Congress’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) in the development of a national strategy to identify, collect, and preserve digital content of long-term value.
“A call to arms to protect and preserve knowledge. A fine and moving book which ranges widely across time and acts as a reminder of the importance of libraries to our culture.” — Wolfson History Prize judges
“Essential reading for anyone concerned with libraries and what Ovenden outlines as their role in ‘the support of democracy, the rule of law and open society.”―Wall Street Journal
“[Burning the Books] takes a nightmare that haunts many of us―the notion of the past erased―and confirms that it is no fiction but rather a recurring reality. In the process, Ovenden stays true to his calling, reminding us that libraries and librarians are the keepers of humankind’s memories: without them, we don’t know who we are.”―Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
“Chronicles how libraries have served as sanctuaries for knowledge under constant threat, and what that means for the present and the future…Shows that when knowledge in print is threatened by power, it’s people pledged to the printed page, rather than armies, who step in…Made clear to me just how vulnerable libraries really are. When we don’t properly fund them, we risk lies becoming the truth, and the truth becoming a joke.”―Slate
On Wednesday, June 23rd, please join us for the special virtual event Game Not Over with John Carmack. For decades, gaming has been one of the central driving forces behind technological progress in the digital age—from increased storage and memory needs to advancements in graphic capabilities, and even how we interact with and socialize around media and each other. How has this medium morphed and changed, and more importantly, how do we preserve this reflection of our culture into the future?
The virtual event will include a virtual fireside chat with John Carmack, independent AI researcher and Consulting CTO to Oculus/Facebook. A panel discussion will follow with Garry Kitchen, Industry Consultant and President/CEO of Audacity Games; Kelsey Lewin, Co-Director of the Video Game History Foundation; Kate Willært, Geek Culture Historian and Founder of A Critical Hit!; and Internet Archive’s Free-Range Archivist Jason Scott. Join us as they take a unique look at the past and present of the gaming industry, as well as why the Internet Archive is key to understanding its history.
This event is an Internet Archive fundraiser. Admission will go towards the long-term preservation of our software collection and our mission of providing universal access to all knowledge. Tickets will sell quickly, so reserve your spot today!
John Carmack is an independent AI researcher and Consulting CTO to Oculus / Facebook. As a founder of Id Software in 1991, he built many of the pillars of today’s game industry—the first-person shooter genre, 3D accelerated rendering, network gaming, and user-generated content. In 2000, he founded Armadillo Aerospace, working part-time to design and build reusable rocket ships, both manned and unmanned. In 2012, the modern era of virtual reality began with his demonstration of Doom 3 running on Palmer Lucky’s Rift prototype at E3.
John Carmack was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ Hall of Fame in 2001, awarded two Emmy® awards for his work in graphics technology in 2006 and 2007, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the GDC in 2010, and in 2016 was awarded the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship Award.
Garry Kitchen is a renowned entrepreneur and toy/video game designer. Kitchen’s hit games include Donkey Kong (Atari 2600), Keystone Kapers, Garry Kitchen’s GameMaker (1985), and Bart (Simpson) vs. the Space Mutants. Garry’s awards include Designer of the Year, Video Game of the Year, SPA Excellence in Software, and a Webby Award. His work is addressed in many documentaries, including World 1-1, Atari: Game Over, Batteries Not Included, The Artists, and Unlocked: The World of Games, Revealed. Kitchen serves on the Advisory Board of the National Video Game Museum (nvmusa.org).
Kelsey Lewin is a video game historian and the co-owner of retro game store chain Pink Gorilla Games in Seattle, Washington. She has been with The Video Game History Foundation since 2017, and currently serves as its co-director.
Kate Willært was born on the same day as the Famicom. Today she creates articles, infographics, and videos about geek culture history, with a focus on video games and comic books. She’s written for Polygon, VGHF, and Heidi MacDonald’s The Beat, but most of her work can be found on ACriticalHit.com.
Jason Scott is the Free-Range Archivist at the Internet Archive. Since 2011 he has assisted in the acquisitions of many different items into the Archive’s stacks, as well as being the Software Curator, in charge of the incoming vintage software items being added to the Archive. Besides his archiving work, Jason has also been a documentary filmmaker, interviewing hundreds of people across 15 years for three major documentaries (BBS, GET LAMP, DEFCON) and has also run a podcast of his own, Jason Scott Talks His Way Out of It, since 2018.
In his sweeping book Fulfillment, Alec MacGillis tours the America that Amazon has re-made. Many of his stories are about warehouse workers in places once home to unionized manufacturing jobs that paid multiples more than what Amazon doles out today. MacGillis focuses on what is, instead of what could be. Yet one passage stuck with me especially, a signpost of what might have been, of where this whole mess might have instead led:
as the former U.S. labor secretary Robert Reich noted, if Amazon employees owned the same proportion of their employer’s stock as Sears workers did in the 1950s–a quarter of the company–each would, by 2020, own shares worth nearly $400,000.
From Fulfillment by Alec MacGillis
The tech economy has generated wealth like the world has never seen, producing the richest companies and individuals in history. All this wealth, as MacGillis and Reich remind us, could have been distributed differently. It could have produced a revival of prosperity as data centers and logistics routes began populating the Rust Belt. Regions now home to endemic poverty could have had a critical mass of upwardly mobile consumers. Instead, a relatively small coterie of elite technologists get stock options, founders start space companies, and everyone else can hardly afford to enjoy the tech their labor makes possible.
DWeb Principle: Distributed Benefits
The DWeb Principles call for “distributed benefits.” Companies like Amazon remind us why. The people contributing their work, their data, and their imagination to make technology valuable should receive value in return. All of us, no matter what we contribute, should benefit because a truly distributed web should be a commons for everyone.
Long before calls for a distributed web, there was a political philosophy called “distributism”–an outgrowth of Catholic social teaching in the Gilded Age. As they confronted the horrors of factory labor and recognized the advance of automation, distributists recognized that if you distribute ownership, distributed control over technology will follow. More than focusing on the design of the technology, they were concerned with how it is owned.
For years now, I’ve been working with tech startups that are trying to build on the long tradition of cooperative business–businesses owned and governed by the people who use them, rather than outside investors just seeking to turn a profit. This isn’t easy, because the dominant venture capital investment model encourages centralized power and centralized benefits above all else. VCs push companies to “exit” into either an acquisition by a bigger company or an IPO on Wall Street. Lately, my collaborators and I have been working to advance the possibility of a new option: “exit to community,” or E2C for short.
Exit to Community (E2C)
In the E2C vision, successful startups would aim toward becoming owned not by a new round of speculative investors but by the people who love and rely on them. This isn’t as out-there as it might sound. Since the 1970s, thousands of companies have become employee-owned through Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), often using bank loans that don’t cost employees a cent upfront. Cooperative businesses like Ace Hardware and the original Visa enabled small businesses to control national-scale networks. New blockchain-based tokens could introduce even more possibilities for enabling users to co-own their tech.
As the E2C idea spreads, I have started to worry about how some are interpreting it. When people think of communities owning companies, more and more, they think of something like GameStop — swarms of small investors pumping and dumping stock on apps like Robinhood. That is not what I mean. I do not hope for a world where we are all crypto day-traders; that’s a job best left to well-governed robots. Finance is hard, single-minded work mostly detached from reality. And in decentralized finance (or DeFi), as in most financial markets, a few players will likely reap most of the wealth.
“Speculation is a game of profiting at the expense of whoever comes later, pilfering from other people’s grandkids. Community ownership, in contrast, means that those who come after us can share the benefits of what we have built.”
I fear the distributed benefits that a lot of DWeb projects envision are of the GameStop sort. Everything becomes a market: storage space, processing power, code contributions — the works. Crypto-tokens matter less for what they are for than what they might someday be worth. Speculation is a game of profiting at the expense of whoever comes later, pilfering from other people’s grandkids. Community ownership, in contrast, means that those who come after us can share the benefits of what we have built.
Open Source software has in some respects modeled a world where we don’t need money to motivate us, where we don’t hide behind artificial scarcity and needless monopolies. The cooperative tradition involves shared ownership and shared wealth, but rather than encouraging speculation, it invites solidarity. Co-op shares usually can’t be traded on an exchange. They are, so to speak, true utility tokens, but with long-term benefits. Cooperativism is the ultimate HODL.
Wrap Markets in Democracies
The old offline world had a pretty sensible idea: When you want to set up markets, enclose them in a democracy that sets the rules. Wall Street was even more dangerous than it is today, before elected governments put limits on what it could do. Flea markets follow the rules of the cities where they operate. This is a principle that DWeb projects should strive for as well.
Consider, for instance, the blockchain project Cambiatus, which has helped communities in Latin America set up their own cryptocurrencies. Before deploying the tech, Cambiatus works with the communities to develop goals and governance processes; the crypto serves the communities, rather than the other way around. Here in the United States, the labor-market startup Opolis is wrapping its token economy within the overarching legal structure of a cooperative. (I recently became a member — my first co-op membership paid for with crypto!) With these kinds of democracy-first designs, we can steer our distributions of benefit more toward the common good than toward the cleverest gamblers.
The six-figure dream of front-line worker-owners is not a fantasy. One of my favorite breweries here in Colorado, New Belgium, was recently acquired by a multinational beer company. This was a disappointing outcome to those of us who prize local business. But it was not the usual corporate acquisition. Rather than leaving workers in the lurch, as buyouts usually do, New Belgium’s current and former employees saw six-figure payments, at least. Why? It was 100% employee owned, through a trust the employees shared. From the CEO to the forklift drivers, the wealth that they had created, in the end, was theirs, together.
For too long, we have hoped that distributed technology would produce distributed power. Again and again, the tech alone doesn’t cut it. The web won’t be truly distributed until the wealth it creates is.
Ever wonder what it looked like inside the old concert halls of London? Curious to learn about the English folk tradition of mummering, where people dress up in disguise and perform in plays in their neighborhoods?
Soon readers all over the world will be able to dive in and learn more once nearly 1,000 books about theater history from the 18th and 19th centuries are online. The collection was recently donated by the Hamilton Public Library (HPL) in Ontario to the Internet Archive for digitization.
“Through our partnership, we are just so appreciative that the Internet Archive is able to make the collection available to the world 24/7,” said Lisa Weaver, director of collections and program development at HPL.
The rich array of books was given to HPL in 1984 by a local university drama professor who was interested in the cultural history of the theater. The collection includes books on the technical details of theater, such as lighting and staging, different actors and playwrights in the theatre community, as well as architecture of various types of British and American theaters.
Because some of the donated books were written by the donor, the availability of the entire collection allows interested researchers to follow the evolution of an author’s perspective on a subject. “The ability to trace the history of thought and ideas is a powerful tool,” said Ryan Johnston, archivist of local history and archives at HPL. “This helps achieve one of the original promises of the Internet, namely as a vehicle for democratizing thought—making knowledge as broadly accessible as possible by removing many of the geographical and physical barriers.”
The Canadian library was doing a standard periodic review of its holdings, when it was determined the collection of American and British material did not fit within the public library’s mandate, which focuses primarily on works from the Hamilton area. The library contacted several university libraries and theater archives to find a new home for the collection, but ultimately decided the Internet Archive would provide access to the broadest audience.
“In the stewardship of collections, it’s a fine balance between what you can accept and what you can realistically store,” Johnston said. For HPL, it made more sense to donate to the Internet Archive, which could take a physical copy of a book, digitize it, and put it online for interested readers no matter their location. “This way we are doing both good collections management and also increasing accessibility,” he said.
HPL donated more than 70 boxes of books on two pallets, which were transported by the Internet Archive to its physical archive facilities. After the books are digitized, the print copies will be put in long-term storage out of circulation, and the digital books will be made available through controlled digital lending. The books cover a wide variety of topics including theater construction, history of traveling troupes, theater lighting in the age of gas, the art of scenic design and other aspects of the evolution of the theater.
Johnston said he expects the books will appeal to anyone with an interest in the theater, including historians, researchers and the general public. Although there was a time when physically holding everything was the way to ensure long term preservation, Johnston encourages others to look at the opportunity of partnering with the Internet Archive to digitize materials.
“It’s important that any institution—whether that’s a library, archive or museum—do a reappraisal of their collection and take a hard look at their options,” Johnston said. “If anything, the pandemic has taught me that people are really looking for material to be as easily accessible as possible. The more memory institutions can do that, the better.”
If you have a collection that you would like to make available to all, the Internet Archive would be happy to preserve and digitize your materials:
Check out our help center article for more information about donating physical items to the Internet Archive.
Register now for our upcoming webinar about our physical donations program – May 27, 2021 @ 1pm ET
Have questions about Controlled Digital Lending? Join us for a webinar on June 10!
Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) is a widely used library practice that supports digital lending for libraries of all sizes. Even though CDL is used at hundreds of libraries around the world, questions remain about this important innovation in digital library lending. In this session, we’ll be tackling the most commonly asked questions surrounding CDL and answering some of yours. Bring your thoughts and ideas – it’s the summer of CDL.
Note: The webinar will be recorded. Go ahead and register even if you can’t join the synchronous session. All registrants will receive an email after the event with a link to the recording, which will also be shared at archive.org and across social media.
Over the years, Dolly Jones collected every Christmas book she could find—children’s books, cookbooks, comic books, mysteries—anything related to the holiday. She kept a handwritten bibliography of every item, which eventually totaled 3,000 volumes and filled her attic in Illinois.
When it came time to downsize, the family was at a loss with what to do with the beloved books. Jones, a librarian, music teacher and organist who is now 84, wanted to keep her collection intact. Initially, the 50 cartons of books were put into storage as the family searched for a place where the books could continue to be enjoyed. They offered the collection to the university library where Jones had worked, the library of her alma mater, and the local public library where she lived, but none had the space to accommodate all the books.
Then, they found the Internet Archive. The Jones family donated the Christmas collection to the Archive and now the books are preserved physically and will have a new home online.
“We were so grateful that the Internet Archive was interested. It seems like a great way for the collection to be saved,” said Sam Jones, one of Dolly’s three sons. “I sent an email to the Archive thinking it was a shot in the dark, but within hours I heard back. I was just beside myself. We are all very excited.”
The collection includes Christmas classics, dime-store novels and valuable first editions, as well as numerous versions of The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, such as A Cajun Christmas Carol. Jones got many of the paperback and hardback books by combing thrift stores and antique shops. She didn’t set out to amass such a large collection, but over time it just grew.
“My mother always loved Christmas and lived for it year around,” says Sam Jones, who has fond memories of his mother reading the books to him and his brothers Tim and Nick as children, and to her six grandchildren when they would gather for Christmas at the family home in DeKalb, Illinois.
Dolly Jones, who now lives with her youngest son Nick, in Colorado, has a master’s in library science and worked as a reference librarian for years. She always had a book in her purse and enjoyed giving books as gifts. The Christmas book collection was dear to the family and they never considered breaking it up or selling it, says Sam Jones. The family repacked the boxes of books and the Internet Archive arranged for pick up. The books will soon be on their way to an Internet Archive digitization center where they will be scanned and made available for borrowing through archive.org.
“Mom will be thrilled to see this online,” says Sam Jones. “We are all very excited. It seems absolutely perfect and a way to be respectful of all the work she put into the collection.”
If you have a collection like Dolly’s that you would like to make available to all, the Internet Archive would be happy to preserve and digitize your materials:
Check out our help center article for more information about donating physical items to the Internet Archive.
Register now for our upcoming webinar about our physical donations program – May 27, 2021 @ 1pm ET