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.
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.