FAQs about the Internet Archive Canada

Responses from Brewster Kahle, Founder & Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive

Based on interest from our letter that mentioned our raising money to make a copy of Internet Archive’s digital collections in Canada, press and others have asked a bunch of good questions. Here is a compendium of our answers:

Q. Were you working on a back-up before the election of Trump?
Yes, we have a partial copy of the Internet Archive in Alexandria, Egypt, and in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

And also before the election we had been planning with the University of Toronto and University of Alberta to host the materials digitized from Canadian libraries at the Internet Archive Canada, which is a completely separate nonprofit from ours.

The statements by Trump on the campaign trail (see below) have ramped us into higher gear, moving us further and faster than we would have. The election led us to think bigger.

Q. Was there anything specific about Trump’s win that made you want to step up your game in terms of a backup archive? What in particular concerns you about what he has said/done? What potential risks do you see?
Upon his election we looked through our archive to find what his stand might be on the Internet policies and found announcements.

At this point, I think it would be prudent to take President-elect Trump at his word. Here are some of his statements, preserved in our Television News Archive. https://archive.org/tv

CNN Republican Presidential Debate
CNN December 15, 2015
Wolf Blitzer: Mr. Trump, are you open to closing parts of the internet?
Donald Trump: I would certainly be open to closing areas where we are at war with somebody. I sure as hell don’t want to let people that want to kill us and kill our nation use our internet. Yes, sir, I am.

Donald Trump quote at a campaign rally at the USS Yorktown in South Carolina CSPAN broadcast speech on December 8, 2015
Donald Trump: So the press has to be responsible. They’re not being responsible, because we are losing a lot of people because of the internet. We have to do something. We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what is happening. We have to talk to them, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some way. Some of you will say, “Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech.” these are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We have got to maybe do something with the internet because they are recruiting by the thousands.

Donald Trump on freedom of the press:

Q. How does this work? What goes into creating a backup of this magnitude (in whatever brief lay terms you can condense it to)?
There are stages we can take to achieve our overall goal. The first stage would be done with the University of Toronto and University of Alberta: to make a copy of what has been digitized from these Canadian collections (books and microfilm) and move that onto their university servers.

The next stage is to create a partial mirror at the Internet Archive Canada, which we have been planning to do.

Then the next stage is to create a “backup copy” in Canada for researchers. The best case scenario would be to have an active organization running a live copy of as much of the Internet Archive’s collections as makes sense. This is what we would like to do.

Q: Is there a specific dollar amount that you are aiming for?
To build a running archive in Canada will cost approximately $5 million, which is our goal. But we can take steps in this direction with less. Then there is ongoing support.

Q: How will you raise the money?
Great question. We are asking for donations from our users and supporters. Donations to the Internet Archive are tax-deductible in the US and can be made at https://archive.org/donate/

Q. What is the Internet Archive of Canada? Can I make a donation to it?
The Internet Archive Canada is a Not-For-Profit Corporation, registered under number 435509-1. It has been running for years and employs 11 book scanners in Toronto and Alberta. It is not a registered public charity, and donations are tax-deductible on donors’ US income only. To donate, please send cheques to:

Internet Archive Canada
130 St. George St.
Suite 7001
Toronto, ON M5V 3T5

Q. What does it mean when you say you archive the “Internet.” Is this national? Or is it a global endeavor?
The Internet Archive archives many things: books, music, video, webpages, television and makes these materials available for free on the archive.org, openlibrary.org, and archive-it.org sites.  Take, for instance, the scope of our Web archiving in the Wayback Machine: https://archive.org/web. It houses a massive archive of over 250 billion web pages, made up of many collections. The Wayback Machine is freely accessible to anyone and it is used by hundreds of thousands of people every day. It is a global project to archive these pages.

Q. What else does the Internet Archive preserve, beyond the Wayback Machine?
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996 with the mission to provide “Universal access to all Knowledge.” The organization seeks to preserve the world’s cultural heritage and to provide open access to our shared knowledge in the digital era, supporting the work of historians, scholars, journalists, students, the blind and reading disabled, as well as the general public. The Internet Archive’s digital collections include more than 26 petabytes of data: 279 billion web pages, moving images (2.2 million films and videos), audio (2.5 million recordings, 140,000 live concerts), texts (8 million texts including 3 million digital books), software (100,000 items) and television (3 million hours). Each day, 2-3 million visitors use or contribute to the Internet Archive, making it one of the world’s top 250 sites. It has created new models for digital conservation by forging alliances with more than 450 libraries, universities and national archives around the world.

30 thoughts on “FAQs about the Internet Archive Canada

  1. still not a donor now

    This post clearly answered every question it listed–except the first two. I think it implied “yes” to those, but I’d rather have direct answers. In other words, if you want my two bits as a donation, please give me two bits of information first: a yes or no answer to each of the first two questions you listed in this post.

    I remain unconvinced by this appeal, and will not donate sans better answers than those given by this post.

    1. Wendy Hanamura

      Yes we have back-ups and were working on off-shore backups. Canada has long been a consideration for us. And yes, there are things that President-elect Trump has said he will do that led us to accelerate our plans. We have selected the actual video record to let you judge his words for yourself.

    2. kek

      It seems sane to have a backup in a different jurisdiction. However, is Canada it? It’s way too cozy with the United States, and isn’t really a country I’d think of when free speech is involved.

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  5. EU boy

    Why Canada? The electricity is cheaper in Norway or Sweden, no wonder that Google also moved its EU server parks there. 😉

    I though you were just paranoid, but that “December 8, 2015” speech is pretty populist and dangerous.

    1. Another EU guy

      Indeed, Norway and Sweden also provide other redundancies that cannot be provided by a Canadian mirror:

      1. Geologic stability. Except for artificially undermined places such as Kiruna, the mountains in Norway and Sweden rise well above projected worst case sea levels and have extremely low earthquake risk.

      2. Political stability with very few disruptive political/military events. Sweden has a longer past stability (no violent revolutions or military invasions for centuries), while Norway has greater independence (not a member of the EU, but saw invasion and battles during WW2).

      3. Geographic redundancy. Norway and Sweden are on a different continent, being part of Eurasia/Africa rather than the Americas.

      4. A well educated population to recruit volunteers from, including computer experts old enough to be retired pensioners.

      5. Strong archival and free speech traditions, still tolerating the presence of the most extreme opinions in all directions, as long as they don’t start shooting (and even then they tend to only prosecute the shooter, not his political sympathizers).

      6. Many of the above are also true for Switzerland.

      7. Amsterdam in the Netherlands has some of the best bulk Internet connectivity in Europe due to being the landing spot for a number of transatlantic cables, but it is much more prone to flooding, and I am unsure of the political resiliency in recent years.


      Given the amount of data, physical transport of the backup copy may be more efficient and be a good way to complete the transfer before January. In other words: Copy the whole thing to an extra pile of backup media, wrap in warm blankets/other soft heat isolation material, load on trucks and store them in a warehouse in Canada (perhaps somewhere on the Toronto university campus), until a new online facility has been funded and built. Once in Canada, further physical land/sea transport routes exist to both East and West without crossing US territory.

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  19. GeoSlv

    Yes but do you also protect conservative opinions as you wish to protect leftist positions. You know that this fake issue of “fake news” is just referring to conservative sites that expose leftist wrongdoing, like vote-rigging. This is just a totalitarian reaction to suppress such opposition, but I hear everyone accepting that yes it is “fake news”. I don’t believe you will be protective of conservatives.

  20. From Another Continent

    I’d donate for a full backup facility on another continent. I understand you folks were planning to push to canada anyway. But a facility in another part of the world would prove as a better backup.
    Personally I don’t think any president will have an impact on your data, but still, geographical redundancy is better off-shore.
    If that facility is also used to serve the archive to the net, there’s less network traffic needed to pass through underwater fibers around half the globe.
    BTW EU wants to step up their internet game. I could imagine having a prestigious asset like a copy of the internet in their geographical region would be something they might want to support.

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