The folks at Protocol Labs love their rockets. And outerspace. And exploration.
So when Filecoin, their cryptocurrency-fueled decentralized storage network launched recently, it was no surprise they called it Filecoin Liftoff. In the payload of that Filecoin rocket are treasures from the Internet Archive:
For 15 years, LibriVox has harnessed a global army of volunteers, creating 14,200 free public domain audiobook projects in 100 different languages. Where else can you listen to Jules Verne’s 20,000Leagues Under the Sea in French, Spanish, English, German or Dutch…for free? Now, phrases of Shakespeare, Poe, Joyce and Dante will be stored across the Filecoin mainnet, broken into packets to be reconstituted when needed—perhaps in a new century.
The same destiny awaits the home movies, stock footage, educational and amateur films in the public domain, lovingly curated by the Prelinger Archives founder, Rick Prelinger. He encourages creatives to download and reuse these videos, creating countless new works like this one by musician Jordan Paul:
Now filmmakers and connoisseurs can sleep easier, knowing that a new, distributed copy of those films lives in the Filecoin network, (along with the main copy and multiple backups in the Internet Archive’s repositories.)
So what’s next Filecoin explorers?
Today, Protocol Labs and the Internet Archive are happy to announce the Filecoin Archives, a new community project to curate, disseminate and preserve important open access information often at risk of being lost. You can get involved in so many ways: by nominating information to be stored, uploading it to the Internet Archive, preserving the data as a Filecoin node while earning Filecoin for sharing your storage capacity.
What information should we be preserving?Please tell us!
How about 166,000 public domain books (60 terabytes) from the Library of Congress? Including 2100 texts about Abraham Lincoln and slavery?
It takes a host of global voices with diverse viewpoints to ensure that humanity’s most precious knowledge is represented online and preserved. So we need to hear from you. What open access information or datasets are you interested in preserving?
Between now and November 5, please send us your ideas and vote on the others. We will gather your suggestions, add our own, and publish the list from which we will select information to preserve across a global network of Filecoin nodes.
How to send us your suggestions
Look for the tweet from @JuanBenet– reply to it with:
The Name of the Dataset.
The size in GB or TB.
An HTTP or @IPFS link to the data.
Why it matters.
Bonus points if the data is already stored in the Internet Archive or if you upload it there. Vote for ideas by retweeting them and please help us spread the word!
In 2015, a young developer named Juan Benet wandered into the Internet Archive headquarters. He painted a picture of a decentralized stack, something he now calls Web3, where the storage, transport and other layers would be distributed across many machines. Together with the DWeb community, we have imagined a web with our values written into the code: values such as privacy, security, reliability, and control over one’s own identity. With the launch of Filecoin’s mainnet, a piece of that new web is perhaps within reach.
Now it’s up to us to make sure the payload includes humanity’s most important knowledge.
Subprime Attention Crisis makes the case that the core advertising model driving Google, Facebook, and many of the most powerful companies on the internet is—at its heart—a multibillion dollar financial bubble. Drawing parallels to the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, Tim shines a spotlight on the lack of transparency, flawed incentives, and outright fraud that keep this machine running.
On October 14, the Internet Archive hosted a talk with the author and New York Times technology reporter Kashmir Hill. Their discussion tackled:
Why data-driven, online advertising may be much, much less effective than it looks
The long-term impact of the COVID-19 recession on the media and online ads
Whether or not the giants of Big Tech are already “too big to fail”
This discussion focused not only on the problems of advertising, but also on the future, and how we might be able to transition to a better, more financially robust internet. Joining the discussion was Desigan Chinniah, who co-leads Grant for the Web—a $100 million fund launched by Coil, Mozilla, and Creative Commons to spur open standards and new economic models for the web beyond advertising.
NOTE: We urge you to purchase a copy of Tim’s new book, Subprime Attention Crisis, via our local bookseller, The Booksmith. The first 50 purchasers will receive an autographed copy.
The following was a guest post by Brewster Kahle in Against The Grain (ATG). See the original article from September 28, 2020 on the ATG website here.
Back in 2006, I was honored to give a keynote at the meeting of the Society of American Archivists, when the president of the Society presented me with a framed blown-up letter “S.” This was an inside joke about the Internet Archive being named in the singular, Archive, rather than the plural Archives. Of course, he was right, as I should have known all along. The Internet Archive had long since grown out of being an “archive of the Internet”—a singular collection, say of web pages—to being “archives on the Internet,” plural. My evolving understanding of these different names might help focus a discussion that has become blurry in our digital times: the difference between the roles of publishers, bookstores, libraries, archives, and museums. These organizations and institutions have evolved with different success criteria, not just because of the shifting physical manifestation of knowledge over time, but because of the different roles each group plays in a functioning society. For the moment, let’s take the concepts of Library and Archive.
The traditional definition of a library is that it is made up of published materials, while an archive is made up of unpublished materials. Archives play an important function that must be maintained—we give frightfully little attention to collections of unpublished works in the digital age. Think of all the drafts of books that have disappeared once we started to write with word processors and kept the files on fragile computer floppies and disks. Think of all the videotapes of lectures that are thrown out or were never recorded in the first place.
Bookstores: The Thrill of the Hunt
Let’s try another approach to understanding distinctions between bookstores, libraries and archives. When I was in my 20’s living in Boston—before Amazon.com and before the World Wide Web (but during the early Internet)—new and used bookstores were everywhere. I thought of them as catering to the specialized interests of their customers: small, selective, and only offering books that might sell and be taken away, with enough profit margin to keep the store in business. I loved them. I especially liked the used bookstore owners—they could peer into my soul (and into my wallet!) to find the right book for me. The most enjoyable aspect of the bookstore was the hunt—I arrived with a tiny sheet of paper in my wallet with a list of the books I wanted, would bring it out and ask the used bookstore owners if I might go home with a bargain. I rarely had the money to buy new books for myself, but I would give new books as gifts. While I knew it was okay to stay for awhile in the bookstore just reading, I always knew the game.
Libraries: Offering Conversations not Answers
The libraries that I used in Boston—MIT Libraries, Harvard Libraries, the Boston Public Library—were very different. I knew of the private Boston Athenæum but I was not a member, so I could not enter. Libraries for me seemed infinite, but still tailored to individual interests. They had what was needed for you to explore and if they did not have it, the reference librarian would proudly proclaim: “We can get it for you!” I loved interlibrary loans—not so much in practice, because it was slow, but because they gave you a glimpse of a network of institutions sharing what they treasured with anyone curious enough to want to know more. It was a dream straight out of Borges’ imagination (if you have not read Borges’short stories, they are not to be missed, and they are short. I recommend you write them on the little slip of paper you keep in your wallet.) I couldn’t afford to own many of the books I wanted, so it turned off that acquisitive impulse in me. But the libraries allowed me to read anything, old and new. I found I consumed library books very differently. I rarely even brought a book from the shelf to a table; I would stand, browse, read, learn and search in the aisles. Dipping in here and there. The card catalog got me to the right section and from there I learned as I explored.
Libraries were there to spark my own ideas. The library did not set out to tell a story as a museum would. It was for me to find stories, to create connections, have my own ideas by putting things together. I would come to the library with a question and end up with ideas. Rarely were these facts or statistics—but rather new points of view. Old books, historical newspapers, even the collection of reference books all illustrated points of view that were important to the times and subject matter. I was able to learn from others who may have been far away or long deceased. Libraries presented me with a conversation, not an answer. Good libraries cause conversations in your head with many writers. These writers, those librarians, challenged me to be different, to be better.
Staying for hours in a library was not an annoyance for the librarians—it was the point. Yes, you could check books out of the library, and I would, but mostly I did my work in the library—a few pages here, a few pages there—a stack of books in a carrel with index cards tucked into them and with lots of handwritten notes (uh, no laptops yet).
But libraries were still specialized. To learn about draft resisters during the Vietnam War, I needed access to a law library. MIT did not have a law collection and this was before Lexis/Nexis and Westlaw. I needed to get to the volumes of case law of the United States. Harvard, up the road, had one of the great law libraries, but as an MIT student, I could not get in. My MIT professor lent me his ID that fortunately did not include a photo, so I could sneak in with that. I spent hours in the basement of Harvard’s Law Library reading about the cases of conscientious objectors and others.
But why was this library of law books not available to everyone? It stung me. It did not seem right.
A few years later I would apply to library school at Simmons College to figure out how to build a digital library system that would be closer to the carved words over the Boston Public Library’s door in Copley Square: “Free to All.”
Archives: A Wonderful Place for Singular Obsessions
When I quizzed the archivist at MIT, she explained what she did and how the MIT Archives worked. I loved the idea, but did not spend any time there—it was not organized for the busy undergraduate. The MIT Library was organized for easy access; the MIT Archives included complete collections of papers, notes, ephemera from others, often professors. It struck me that the archives were collections of collections. Each collection faithfully preserved and annotated. I think of them as having advertisements on them, beckoning the researcher who wants to dive into the materials in the archive and the mindset of the collector.
So in this formulation, an archive is a collection, archives are collections of collections. Archivists are presented with collections, usually donations, but sometimes there is some money involved to preserve and catalog another’s life work. Personally, I appreciate almost any evidence of obsession—it can drive toward singular accomplishments. Archives often reveal such singular obsessions. But not all collections are archived, as it is an expensive process.
The cost of archiving collections is changing, especially with digital materials, as is cataloging and searching those collections. But it is still expensive. When the Internet Archive takes on a physical collection, say of records, or old repair manuals, or materials from an art group, we have to weigh the costs and the potential benefits to researchers in the future.
Archives take the long view. One hundred years from now is not an endpoint, it may be the first time a collection really comes back to light.
Could we be smarter by having people, the library, networks, and computers all work together? That is the dream I signed on to.
I dreamed of starting with a collection—an Archive, an Internet Archive. This grew to be a collection of collections: Archives. Then a critical mass of knowledge complete enough to inform citizens worldwide: a Digital Library. A library accessible by anyone connected to the Internet, “Free to All.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brewster Kahle, Founder & Digital Librarian, Internet Archive
A passionate advocate for public Internet access and a successful entrepreneur, Brewster Kahle has spent his career intent on a singular focus: providing Universal Access to All Knowledge. He is the founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, one of the largest digital libraries in the world, which serves more than a million patrons each day. Creator of the Wayback Machine and lending millions of digitized books, the Internet Archive works with more than 800 library and university partners to create a free digital library, accessible to all.
Soon after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied artificial intelligence, Kahle helped found the company Thinking Machines, a parallel supercomputer maker. He is an Internet pioneer, creating the Internet’s first publishing system called Wide Area Information Server (WAIS). In 1996, Kahle co-founded Alexa Internet, with technology that helps catalog the Web, selling it to Amazon.com in 1999. Elected to the Internet Hall of Fame, Kahle is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and holds honorary library doctorates from Simmons College and University of Alberta.
This week, a federal judge issued this scheduling order, laying out the road map that may lead to a jury trial in the copyright lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest publishers against the Internet Archive. Judge John G. Koeltl has ordered all parties to be ready for trial by November 12, 2021. He set a deadline of December 1, 2020, to notify the court if the parties are willing to enter settlement talks with a magistrate judge.
Attorneys for the Internet Archive have met with representatives for the publishers, but were unable to reach an agreement. “We had hoped to settle this needless lawsuit,” said Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive’s founder and Digital Librarian. “Right now the publishers are diverting attention and resources from where they should be focused: on helping students during this pandemic.”
The scheduling order lays out this timeline:
Discovery must be completed by September 20, 2021;
Dispositive motions must be submitted by October 8, 2021;
Pretrial orders/motions must be submitted by October 29, 2021;
Parties must be ready for trial on 48 hours notice by November 12, 2021.
In June, Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and Penguin Random House LLC—with coordination by the Association of American Publishers—filed a lawsuit to stop the Internet Archive from digitizing and lending books to the public, demanding that the non-profit library destroy 1.5 million digital books.
Publishers Weekly Senior Writer Andrew Albanese has been covering the story from the beginning. In a July 31st Beyond the Book podcast for the Copyright Clearance Center, Albanese shared his candid opinions about the lawsuit. “If this was to be a blow out, open-and-shut case for the publishers, what do the publishers and authors get?” Albanese asked. “I’d say nothing.”
“Honestly, a win in court on this issue will not mean more sales for books for publishers. Nor will it protect any authors or publisher from the vagaries of the Internet,” the Publishers Weekly journalist continued. “Here we are in the streaming age, 13 years after the ebook market took off, and we’re having a copyright battle, a court battle over crappy PDFs of mostly out-of-print books? I just don’t think it’s a good look for the industry.”
In order to make the vast majority of 20th Century books accessible to digital learners, libraries such as the Internet Archive have been digitizing the physical books they own and lending them on a 1-to-1 “own to loan” basis—a legal framework called Controlled Digital Lending. Publishers refuse to sell ebooks to libraries, insisting on temporary licenses on restrictive terms. This business practice “threatens the purpose, values, and mission of libraries and archives in the United States,” explains Kyle K. Courtney, copyright advisor to Harvard University Libraries. “It undermines the ability of the public (taxpayers!) to access the materials purchased with their money for their use in public libraries and state institutions, and further, it is short sighted, and not in the best interest of library patrons or the public at large.”
“Libraries have always had the right to buy and lend books. It’s at the core of a library’s mission,” said Kahle. “The Internet Archive would like to purchase ebooks, but the publishers won’t sell them to us, or to any library. Instead they are suing us to stop all learners from accessing the millions of digitized books in our library.”
On July 22, 2020, Kyle K. Courtney, Copyright Advisor at Harvard University, spoke at a press conference about the copyright lawsuit against the Internet Archive brought by the publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House.He holds a J.D. with distinction in Intellectual Property Law and a Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) degree. Courtney is a published author and nationally recognized speaker on the topics of copyright, technology, libraries, and the law.These are his remarks:
Part of my work in scholarship is about the roles of copyright and the library landscape. I wrote the white paper on Controlled Digital Lending of library books with my coauthor David Hansen at Duke University Libraries. And it presents the legal rationale supporting the overview document called the Position Statement on Controlled Digital Lending, which has been endorsed by many national library organizations, regional library consortia, specific library systems, themselves, individual librarians, and legal experts. Ultimately, though, this is about how libraries can do what they’ve always done, right? Lend books. The paper looks at the underpinnings of the library’s historical mission through the lens of both fair use and first sale, true critical rights that I think any library uses in their programs, right? Both for lending and preservation. And I discuss how libraries can legally lend digital copies of their print collections using this technology.
But I’d like to point out that a CDL system is not a brand new concept, like Corynne stated: libraries loan books to the public. It’s what they do, for centuries. And libraries do not need permission or a license to loan those books that they have purchased or acquired. Copyright law covers those exact issues. But the difference here, I think, and some of the conflict is that the vendors and publishers have to ask permission, right? They must license. This is their business model. Historically, libraries are special creatures of copyright law; libraries have a legally authorized mandate, by the way, granted by Congress, to complete their mission to provide both access to materials. Congress actually placed all of these specialized copyright exemptions for libraries in the Copyright Act itself. So that’s kind of fun to look at library’s unique role in copyright law, they sit right in the middle, both housing the economic purpose of copyright: “we buy the books, we buy lots of books,” and the access purpose of copyright, which is, “we loan the books out to our users.”
Or if you want to put that in the constitutional narrative: libraries are promoting the progress of science and the useful arts. Libraries have historically provided unfettered access and freedom to the books that they purchase for their communities. Now, because of that, there’s multiple versions of CDL-like systems that are currently used in libraries. But I think the origin of the real legal underpinning concept was first explored by Professor Michelle Wu at Georgetown University School of Law in an article that she wrote that I read many times, “Building a Collaborative Digital Collection.” Later, the Internet Archive formed up the Open Library Program, which Chris talked about, which was nine years ago. And other institutions are exploring this option right in their own individual libraries or part of consortia or within affinity groups.
It’s exciting to see, but at its core, Controlled Digital Lending is about replicating, through the Controlled Digital Lending Process, the legal and economically significant aspects of physical lending. And in other words, let’s put this simply: it continues to preserve the powers in the print. A library has these significant legal usage rights and they have great fiscal value in their collections. Some public library systems have spent millions upon millions of dollars to make their collections accessible to the community. And I believe the CDL structure preserves that value by enhancing access of these works to the public through technology. And as Chris pointed out, it’s the same technology that’s used by publishers to distribute in the commercial marketplace.
Again, this may be about the fear of technology, certainly, but technology should be used to enhance access to materials and do what libraries have always done: increasing access to knowledge by loaning the materials to the public. Just because we’re using technology does not mean that suddenly these acts are new. And in fact, libraries have special authority to provide both access longterm to information and preserve these materials for much longer than the business model of any particular corporation, company, or vendor.
And this is especially true with the 20th Century works that are in libraries, right? They have not been available in the digital world across the board. They call this “The 20th Century Black Hole.” Many 20th Century books are not available for purchase as new copies or in print or digital versions online. And I don’t know if your students are like mine or anyone else or patrons: if it’s not digital, it’s almost like it doesn’t exist. Libraries would like to provide digital access, but we can’t, because these are not available in a licensed format or in a digital format that’s available to loan, but we have them on our shelves.
So as many of our student patrons say, “We want access to these works,” and these could be long lost print works, by the way, that are really not lost; they’re on the shelves of our libraries, just trapped there, and in COVID maybe trapped there for a longer time than anticipated. So imagine the potentially enormous high social and scholarly value and relatively low risk if we make these works available to the public for reading, quoting, citing, adaption, using Wikipedia articles. So that’s kind of the exciting aspect of it. I’m not going to get into great detail, but our principle argument in this paper, which summarizes all these points, is that Controlled Digital Lending is a fair use, which is an equitable rule of reason, that permits libraries to do what they’ve always done. And under the First Sale Doctrine, loan those books to users. Thanks a lot for your time.
On July 22, 2020, Chris Freeland, Director of Open Libraries at the Internet Archive, spoke at a press conference about the copyright lawsuit brought by the publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House against our non-profit digital library.These are his remarks:
I’m Chris Freeland, I’m a librarian at the Internet Archive and I’m the Director of the Open Libraries Program at the Internet Archive. I’ve been at the Internet Archive for more than two and a half years. Before joining the Archive, I was an associate university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis, and then before that I was the Technical Director of a project called the Biodiversity Heritage Library. And so for more than 15 years, I’ve worked in partnership with the Internet Archive to digitize books and make them as widely available as possible through technology and through copyright.
In that same amount of time, that’s when the Internet Archive was partnering with those one thousand libraries that Brewster just mentioned to digitize nearly four million books. So most of those books, when we were partnering with libraries, most of those books were in the public domain, and that means that those were easily published online. They didn’t need restrictions for use. They didn’t need any kind of controls. But at the Internet Archive, we think that everyone deserves to learn. So our goal is to build a research library with more than four million modern books that we can make available to users all over the world.
Now you may be asking why four million? Four million books is the size of a large metropolitan public library. It’s about the same size as a Chicago Public Library or a San Francisco Public Library. And we think that everyone, regardless of where they live, should have equal and equitable access to a comprehensive library. And so to date, we’ve digitized nearly 1.5 million books on the way towards that four million book goal.
So the way that we lend books to our patrons is through Controlled Digital Lending. So Controlled Digital Lending is a legal practice that makes works accessible that are still in copyright. We started working with Controlled Digital Lending with the Boston Public Library, on a pilot that we called at that time “digitize and lend” those books that were in copyright. Now, nine years later, hundreds of other libraries of all sizes in the US and Canada are also participating in Controlled Digital Lending and they’ve embraced the model.
So here’s the way the Controlled Digital Lending works. We only loan as many copies as we and our library partners own, and those checkouts have time limits and the files are protected by the same digital rights management software that publishers use. It’s not a free-for-all. It’s controlled, that’s the “control” in Controlled Digital Lending. So Controlled Digital Lending helps us make information available, which is incredibly important from my perspective as a librarian. It’s a necessary way to increase equity in our education system, and it’s part of the mission of libraries.
In addition to digitizing, we’re also helping libraries and institutions preserve their collections and to keep them safe and accessible. So let me give you a little example, a story from last year. Marygrove College closed last year, and a central concern for the school’s president, Dr. Elizabeth Burns, and for the Board of Trustees is what do we do with the library? Those 70,000 volumes that are in that library that were in the school that was closing. So after hearing about the Internet Archive’s Controlled Digital Lending program, the college decided to donate the entire library to us for digitization and for preservation, so that the legacy of the college would live on. And so that those books would be available for future scholars.
So in closing my little portion here, I want to leave you with an impact story of why Controlled Digital Lending matters. So we’ve received hundreds of testimonials and published two blog posts that are full of statements from users who have used our lending library while their own libraries and their schools were closed. And one such statement really helped underscore that impact of CDL. And it comes to us from Benjamin Saracco, who is a librarian at a medical center in New Jersey. And Benjamin wrote to us, and to let us know that he was able to find basic life support manuals that were needed by the frontline workers at the medical center where he worked. He needed those and he had to use our library because his physical collection was closed due to COVID-19. It may sound impossible to think, but it’s true. Lives were saved because of Controlled Digital Lending. That is impactful.
This week, Public Knowledge, the public interest policy group, announced the winners of its 17th annual IP3 Awards. IP3 awards honor those who have made significant contributions in the three areas of “IP”—intellectual property, information policy, and internet protocol. On September 24, the 2020 Intellectual Property award will be presented to Lila Bailey, Policy Counsel at the Internet Archive.
“She has been a tremendous advocate and leader behind the scenes on behalf of libraries and archives, ensuring both can serve the public in the digital era,” said Chris Lewis, President and CEO of Public Knowledge. “Working at the intersection between copyright and information access, Lila has been instrumental in promoting equitable access to contemporary research through Controlled Digital Lending — the library lending practice currently under threat because of a legal challenge from large commercial publishers.”
“My whole career has been leading up to this moment,” Bailey mused, speaking about her role defending the Internet Archive against the publishers’ copyright lawsuit. “This is what I went to law school to do: to fight for the democratization of knowledge.”
In private practice at Perkins Cole, Bailey won the Pro Bono Leadership award for her tireless work defending the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine against a legal challenge.
Bailey later went on to work for Creative Commons, helping to ensure that everyone everywhere has access to high quality, open educational resources. She served as a fellow at the Electronic Freedom Foundation, and later returned to Berkeley Law as a Teaching Fellow to help train the next generation of public interest technology lawyers.
“Now that our lives are largely online, copyright law, which is supposed to promote creativity and learning, sometimes creates barriers to these daily activities. The work I am doing is to try to clear some of those barriers away so we can realize that utopian vision of universal access to knowledge.”
Since joining the Internet Archive as Policy Counsel in 2017, Bailey has focused on building a community of practice around Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). Although the library practice has existed for more than a decade, Bailey has been working with Michelle Wu, Kyle K. Courtney, David Hansen, Mary Minow and other legal scholars to help libraries navigate the complex legal framework that allows libraries to bring their traditional lending function online. Today, with hundreds of endorsers, Controlled Digital Lending defines a legal pathway for libraries to digitize the books they already own and lend them online in a secure way.
“As a copyright lawyer, I find her to be an incredibly inspiring colleague, a natural leader, and great person,” said Harvard Copyright Advisor, Kyle Courtney, who works with Bailey on the CDL Task Force. “I know that her work creates a multiplier effect that can inspire others, like myself, to advocate for greater access to culture and enhance a library’s role in the modern world.”
So what drives this intellectual property warrior forward? “Access to knowledge matters to everyone. It’s the great equalizer. That is what the internet has given us—this vision of everyone having equal ability to learn and also to teach, to read and also to speak,” she explained. “Now that our lives are largely online, copyright law, which is supposed to promote creativity and learning, sometimes creates barriers to these daily activities. The work I am doing is to try to clear some of those barriers away so we can realize that utopian vision of universal access to knowledge.”
Previous IP3 Award winners include Bailey’s mentors Professor Pam Samuelson and Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle; along with many of her heroes including professors Peter Jaszi, Lateef Mtima, and Rebecca Tushnet. Be sure to attend the award ceremony on September 24, 6-8 PM ET, by registering here.
“That’s how I think of it now: listening as intimacy. My shoulders dropped. The muscles in my neck and face relaxed. I breathed more deeply.”
—Donald Antrim, “How Music Can Bring Relief During These Anxious Times,” The New Yorker
Every Monday at 9:55 a.m., the concerts begin. Lap steel guitarists. Feminist indie folk bands. Improvisational cellists. For the Internet Archive staff, spread across many continents, these ten-minute concerts that begin and end our work week create an aural bubble where listening together feels intimate, uplifting. For us this music has somehow become, yes, essential. For the artists, zooming in from makeshift home stages, the chance to perform live for our staff of 100+ creates a connection with an audience that has been severed during the pandemic. “It was so nourishing to be supported, not only emotionally, but also financially at a time when musicians are being hit incredibly hard,” said singer-songwriter, Annie Hart. “It made my art feel valued and appreciated and helped me continue to make more.”
The idea to create this impromptu concert series originated with Alexis Rossi, who heads the Internet Archive’s Collections team. Five minutes before our Monday morning and Friday lunch staff zoom meetings, Alexis and Web Archiving Program Manager, Peggy Lee, act as virtual stage managers, getting performers dialed in, audio levels tweaked. The Internet Archive pays performers a small fee and staffers “tip” the artists through paypal or Venmo. “”I have several friends who are full time performers, and shelter in place completely destroyed their ability to work and make a living,” explains Rossi. “So I jumped at the chance to help book acts because I knew that even a little bit of income would help.”
“The music series has been a way we bring people into our house, the place where we come together as a community, and have this shared experience together. I love those ten minutes.”
—Peggy Lee, Co-producer, Essential Music
What started as a fun idea has solidified into ESSENTIAL MUSIC: Concerts From Home, a program that we believe could be replicated anywhere, offering organizations many intangible benefits. “The Internet Archive’s live performances have been such a bright spot in my week,” says engineer, Jason Buckner. “They bring such a positive energy to our meetings and you can see it in the faces of everyone watching on Zoom.” Just ten minutes of music seems to have a magical effect on staff: inspiration. “Seeing other creatives excel at what they do helps bind me closer to my work,” agrees Isa Herico Velasco, Internet Archive engineer. “It affirms what we are actually stewarding: the preservation and celebration of humanity.”
Here are some of the Essential Music concerts, recorded and shared by permission of the artists:
Ainsley Wagoner / Silverware (6/16/20)
Ainsley Wagoner creates ethereal music as the artist, Silverware. Ainsley is also a product designer who co-created the super cool OAM project — an experiment in mixing sound, colours, and geometries on the web. “Performing is one of my favorite parts about being a musician,” says Wagoner. “Even though I have recorded music online, nothing beats playing a song live. For now, I don’t have an in-person performance outlet, so it felt really good to do that virtually with the Internet Archive.”
Alex Spoto (6/22/20)
Alex is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed and recorded with Last Good Tooth, Benjamin Booker, and many others. He is a longtime contributor for Aquarium Drunkard and the co-author of Fowre 2: Gone Country, a book of interviews with contemporary Country musicians. He got his start playing classical violin, then ‘old-time’ folk music, and then improvised “free” music. He is currently musically obsessed with cajun fiddling, old cumbia, the jazzier side of Merle Haggard, the polyrhythmic foundation of Saharan folk music, the sly and sensitive folkways of Michael Hurley, and the Internet Archive’s 78 project!
Vickie Vertiz (6/26/20)
The oldest child of an immigrant Mexican family, Vickie Vértiz was born and raised in Bell Gardens, a city in southeast Los Angeles County. Her writing is featured in the New York Times magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Huizache, Nepantla, the Los Angeles Review of Books, KCET Departures, and the anthologies: Open the Door (from McSweeney’s and the Poetry Foundation), and The Coiled Serpent (from Tia Chucha Press), among many others.
Vértiz’s first full collection of poetry, Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut, published in the Camino del Sol Series by The University of Arizona Press won a 2018 PEN America literary prize. Vickie is a proud member of Colectivo Miresa, a feminist cooperative speaker’s bureau, her first poetry collection, Swallows, is available from Finishing Line Press. She teaches at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Jess Sylvester / Marinero (6/29/20)
Jess Sylvester is a Bay Area chicanx songwriter/composer, also known as Marinero. Marinero is known for his dreamy, cholo-fi signature style of taking samples of 60s latin music and adding spacey pop flavors. His newest album, Trópico de Cáncer, is rooted in bossa nova and Tropicália sounds. Watch his profile in Content Magazine.
Sylvester says: “I was actually touched by the introduction given to me right before playing a song for their team. It was a shock to hear the level of research they had done referencing my life and past projects, and in retrospect made sense considering it was the Internet Archive just living up to their name.” Thank you for listening to my music and making me feel heard and supported.”
Ivan Forde (7/6/20)
Ivan Forde is a Guyanese-born, Harlem artist. Forde (b. 1990) works across sound performance, printmaking, digital animation and installation. Using a wide variety of photo-based and print-making processes (and more recently music and performance), Ivan Forde retells stories from epic poetry casting himself as every character. His non-linear versions of these time-worn tales open the possibility of new archetypes and alternative endings. By crafting his own unique mythology and inserting himself in historical narratives, he connects the personal to the universal and offers a transformative view of prevailing narratives in the broader culture.
Zachary James Watkins (7/10/20)
Zachary James Watkins is an Oakland-based sound artist. He was one-half of the defunct duo Black Spirituals and is now part of the current duo Watkins/Peacock. Zachary has received commissions from Cornish, The Microscores Project, The Beam Foundation, Somnubutone, the sfSoundGroup and the Seattle Chamber Players. He has shared bills with Earth, the Sun Ra Arkestra, and designed the sound and composed music for the plays “I Have Loved Strangers.” His 2006 composition Suite for String Quartet was awarded the Paul Merritt Henry Prize for Composition and has subsequently been performed at the Labs 25th Anniversary Celebration, the Labor Sonor Series at Kule in Berlin Germany and in Seattle Wa, as part of the 2nd Annual Town Hall New Music Marathon. Zachary has been an artist in residence at the Espy Foundation, Djerassi and the Headlands Center for The Arts.
Bill Walker (7/13/20)
A gifted composer and instrumentalist, Bill Walker’s music has been described as cinematic, adventurous, and innovative. His solo performances create a rich tapestry of layered sounds, blending electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel guitars, and percussive guit-boxing with state of the art live looping techniques and sound design.
This Santa Cruz, CA-based musician was featured in Guitar Player Magazine for his collaboration with Erdem Helvacioglu on the critically acclaimed CD, “Fields and Fences”. To hear more tune in to his YouTube channel.
Jennifer Cheng (7/17/20)
Jennifer S. Cheng’s work includes poetry, lyric essay, and image-text forms exploring immigrant home-building, shadow poetics, and the feminine monstrous. She is the author of MOON: LETTERS, MAPS, POEMS, selected by Bhanu Kapil for the Tarpaulin Sky Award, and HOUSE A, selected by Claudia Rankine for the Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She is a 2019 NEA Literature Fellow and graduated from Brown University, the University of Iowa, and San Francisco State University.
Jess Sah Bi (7/17/20)
Jess Sah Bi, with his musical partner, Peter One, is one of the most popular musical acts in West Africa, performing to stadium-sized audiences at home in the Ivory Coast and throughout Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Their album, Our Garden Needs Its Flowers, originally thrust them into stardom in the late ’80s. The album was inspired both by classic American country and folk music and the traditions of Ivorian village songs, but it focused thematically on the political turmoil of the region. Songs are sung in French, Gouro, and English.
Theresa Wong (7/24/20)
Theresa Wong is a Berkeley-based composer, cellist and vocalist active at the intersection of music, experimentation, improvisation and the synergy of multiple disciplines. Bridging sound, movement, theater and visual art, her primary interest lies in finding the potential for transformation for both the artist and receiver alike. Her works include The Unlearning (Tzadik), 21 songs for violin, cello and 2 voices inspired by Goya’s Disasters of War etchings, O Sleep, an improvised opera for an 8 piece ensemble exploring the conundrum of sleep and dream life. In 2018, Theresa founded fo’c’sle, a record label dedicated to adventurous music from the Bay Area and beyond. Theresa has shared her work internationally at venues including Fondation Cartier in Paris, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Cafe Oto in London, Festival de Arte y Ópera Contemporánea in Morelia, Mexico and The Stone and Roulette in New York City.
After her performance, the artist wrote, ““I could sense the spirit reaching out beyond glass and pixels, sparking back to life that basic need of connecting with others.”
On July 22, 2020, Pamela Samuelson, Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at the University of California, Berkeley, spoke at a press conference about the copyright lawsuit against the Internet Archive brought by the publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House.These are her remarks:
Good afternoon. Very happy to be here with you today. The Authors Alliance has several thousand members around the world and we have endorsed the controlled digital lending as a fair use and I think that this is a lawsuit I hoped would never happen. Because controlled digital lending has been going on for such a long time, it’s really tragic that at this time of pandemic that the publishers would try to basically cut off even access to a digital public library like the Internet Archive is running.
I don’t know about your library, but my libraries in California are closed. I can’t get any books out of even the University of California Berkeley Library at this point, the whole campus is closed, and so while I haven’t been using the Open Library for my research purposes because they don’t have the books in it that I need, I do think that that it’s just a heartless, tragic thing that this lawsuit is really trying to stop a very positive thing that Internet Archive has been doing.
I’m one of the legal scholars who has endorsed the controlled digital lending statement. I think that even under some second circuit opinions, one can say that the Open Library has actually a utility-enhancing transformative use. It’s certainly nonprofit, it’s educational, and it promotes literacy and many, many positive things. I think that the idea that lending a book is illegal is just wrong.
I would actually like to point out that in Germany, where copyright laws are generally stronger than in the United States, that the Darmstadt Technical University was able to succeed in its non-infringement claim for digitizing a book, and here’s the important point: just because the publisher wanted to license an ebook to that library, the Court of Justice of the European Union said it’s not an infringement for the library to actually digitize one of its own books and make that book available to the public. So if that’s true in Germany, I think it should be true in the US as well.
About the speaker:
Pamela Samuelson is the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at the University of California, Berkeley. She is recognized as a pioneer in digital copyright law, intellectual property, cyberlaw and information policy. Since 1996, she has held a joint appointment at Berkeley Law School and UC Berkeley’s School of Information. Samuelson is a director of the internationally-renowned Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. She is co-founder and chair of the board of Authors Alliance, a nonprofit organization that promotes the public interest in access to knowledge. She also serves on the board of directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as on the advisory boards for the Electronic Privacy Information Center , the Center for Democracy & Technology, Public Knowledge, and the Berkeley Center for New Media.
Put simply, the campaign asks Congress to clarify libraries’ right to buy and lend books today as they have done for centuries.
Today, amidst a skyrocketing demand for digital books, many books are not available on digital shelves at any price because there are no commercially available digital versions of older titles. This gap limits how libraries can serve their patrons.
“Many libraries are currently closed, and sadly it looks like they may be for months to come,” said John Bergmayer, Legal Director of Public Knowledge. “We need to make sure that libraries can continue serving their communities, not just during the pandemic, but after, as tightened budgets put the squeeze on library services and limit the scope of their collections.”
Filling the Gap with Controlled Digital Lending
Libraries have begun making and lending out digital versions of physical works in their collections based on current legal protections—a practice called Controlled Digital Lending, or CDL. As Public Knowledge’s Let Libraries Fight Back campaign explains:
CDL is a powerful tool to bridge the gap between print and electronic resources. Under CDL, a digital copy of a physical book can only be read and used by one person at a time. Only one person can “borrow” an electronic book at once, and while it is being lent electronically, the library takes the physical book out of circulation.
CDL allows libraries to reach their patrons even when those patrons can’t make it to the physical library — a problem that’s been more prevalent than ever during the pandemic. Without programs like this, library patrons are prevented from accessing a world of content and information — and low-income, rural, and other marginalized communities are hit the hardest.
However, Public Knowledge acknowledges that the challenge extends beyond print materials. “Controlled Digital Lending makes it so that a library’s existing print collection is more useful, and can be accessed remotely,” explained Bergmayer. “But we also need to make sure that libraries can acquire digital-native books and other media under the same terms they have always operated under.”