Category Archives: Books Archive

The Book Collector’s Legacy: Preserving the Personal Library of Rabbi Simon Noveck

Growing up in New Jersey, Beth Noveck says she was surrounded by so many books in her home that it felt like a library.

Simon and Doris Noveck. Image credit: Reiner Leist, American Portraits
Prestel Publishing, 1999

Her father, Simon Noveck, was a voracious reader. A rabbi with a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University, Simon collected books about Jewish philosophy, history, and sociology. Her mother, Doris, was interested in books about the arts and cooking. Together, they traveled around the world and often brought home souvenirs in the form of books, including a Turkish dictionary and a guidebook from a Jewish cemetery in Prague.

Over the years, the Novecks amassed a collection of more than 10,000 volumes. After they died (Simon in 2005; Doris in 2022), the family had to decide what to do with all the books.

“My parents had always talked about the idea of building a lending library, creating a home for the collection that people could access,” said Beth, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston.

While storing the items in a physical library was not feasible, Beth said the Internet Archive provided the perfect solution: Digitizing the collection.

Donating the collection

The donation process started by completing the Internet Archive’s physical item donation form. She then got in touch with the Internet Archive team who helped answer questions about the deduplication, packing and shipping process.

“We work with prospective donors to make sure that the valuable information in their collections will be unique to our library,” said Liz Rosenberg, Internet Archive’s donations manager. “Once we determine the collection will help add new resources to our library we help coordinate the logistics of getting the collection to the physical archives. There can be all sorts of logistics puzzles involved in physical item donations, especially for sizable donations like this one, like how to box books for efficient storage and transport. It’s always meaningful to work with families to help honor the legacy of their loved ones by preserving the materials they curated over time.”

Boxing and moving the collection.

In November, the family donated approximately 5,000 books in 200 boxes—every book from the collection that the Archive did not already have online. Staff from the Internet Archive provided the boxes, staff and two trucks to move the items from New Jersey to the physical archives. The items will eventually be scanned, cataloged and available for free to the public online.

“I can think of no better way to honor my father’s memory and all the work that he did to create this collection,” Beth said. “This way his legacy continues, and other people get to benefit from the work that he did. I’m so thrilled and grateful for this opportunity.”

Download for iPhone / Android

To decide what to donate, Beth and her son, Amedeo Bettauer, 14, used the Donate Books app (iPhone / Android) from the Internet Archive to review each book to see if it would be new to the collection or a duplicate. The books had been moved to a family member’s house in New Jersey, where Beth and Amedeo went over the course of five weekends last fall (by plane, car or train) to sort out the collection.

“It was an occasion for a lot of reminiscence, wonderful stories and exchange of memories,” Beth said.

Understanding the collection

Born in 1914, Simon had served congregations in New York City and Hartford, Connecticut; was the head of adult education for B’Nai Brith; and wrote several books about Jewish history, sociology and philosophy. Living far from a research library in rural New Jersey, Beth said her parents frequently bought books and remained in touch with the wider world through their reading.

Sample book from the donation.

For Amedeo, who never met his grandfather, the process was a chance to learn more about his family’s history.

“Books really do reflect a person,” Amedeo said. “Getting to see my grandfather’s entire collection gave me a window into who he was, as a man, which was very interesting. There were some moments where I thought, ‘Wait, that’s a book that I might have gotten or that I even have.’ It was very enlightening to see.”

Amedeo and Beth said they were amazed at the breadth of the collection, including papers from U.S. presidents, and rare books on a variety of topics. The process was both sentimental and enjoyable, Beth said, knowing that her father had read every book they sorted. A long-time fan and supporter of the Internet Archive, she said it was very satisfying for the family to know that so much of the collection will be preserved.

“A lot of my grandfather’s books were very esoteric, so he might have been the only person left that had a physical copy of a certain book,” Amedeo said. “To have that be lost or destroyed would be a catastrophic loss of knowledge. This way the collection is digitized and forever available to everyone for free. I think it’s what my grandparents would have wanted.”

Fair Use in Action at the Internet Archive

As we celebrate Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, we are reminded of all the ways these flexible copyright exceptions enable libraries to preserve materials and meet the needs of the communities they serve. Indeed, fair use is essential to the functioning of libraries, and underlies many of the ordinary library practices that we all take for granted. In this blog post, we wanted to describe a few of the ways the fair use doctrine has helped us build our library.

Fair use in action: Web Archives and the Wayback Machine

The Internet Archive has been archiving the web since the mid-1990’s. Our web collection now includes more than 850 billion web pages, with hundreds of millions added each day. The Wayback Machine is a free service that lets people visit these archived websites. Users can type in a URL, select a date range, and then begin surfing on an archived version of the web. 

Web archives are used for a variety of important purposes, many of which are themselves fair uses. News reporting and investigative journalism is one such use of the Wayback Machine. Indeed, thousands of news articles have relied upon historical versions of the web from the Wayback Machine. Just last week, 13 links to the Wayback Machine were used in a CNN story about an Ohio GOP Senate candidate’s previous statements that were critical of former President Trump. Our web archive also becomes an urgent backup for media sites that are shut down suddenly, whether by authoritarian governments or for other reasons, often becoming the only accessible source both for the authors of these stories and for the public. Another important purpose web archives can serve is as evidence in legal disputes. Attorneys use the Wayback Machine in their daily practice for evidentiary and research purposes. In 2023 alone, the Internet Archive attested to 450 affidavits in cases where Wayback Machine captures were used as evidence in court. 

The Wayback Machine also makes other parts of the web, such as Wikipedia, more useful and reliable. To date, the Internet Archive has been able to repair over 19 million broken links, URLs, that had returned a 404 (Page Not Found) error message, from 320 different Wikipedia language editions. There are many reasons, including bit rot and content drift, why links stop working. Restoring links ensures that Wikipedia remains an accurate and verifiable source of information for the public good. And we hope to build new tools and partnerships to help create a more dependable knowledge ecosystem as more and more content on the web is created by generative AI.

The Fair Use doctrine is broadly considered to be what makes web archiving possible. Without it, much of our knowledge and cultural heritage–huge amounts of which are now artifacts in digital form–would be at risk. In today’s chaotic information ecosystem, safeguarding this material in an open, accessible, and transparent way is vital for history and vital for democracy. 

Fair use in action: Manuals collection

Whether you are an individual who has rendered an appliance useless because you lost the instructions, or a professional mechanic looking to fix an old vehicle, owners’ manuals are invaluable. As the right to repair movement has amply demonstrated, copyright should not stand as an obstacle to using machines you’ve bought and paid for. This is a place where fair use can shine.

Over the years, the Internet Archive has received manuals, instruction sheets and informational pamphlets of all kinds. The Manuals collection has well over a million items—or users to access 24/7 at no cost. This resource gives people the right to repair and extend the life of their products. Whether you are a rocket scientist needing to operate your space shuttle, a mechanic who needs to repair a vintage VW Bug, or a curious kid trying to fix up your mom’s old computer, having free online access to the technical documentation you need is essential. And in many cases, there would appear to be no other way to get access to this crucial information.

Some preserved manuals are a single printed page with poorly constructed diagrams. Others are multi-volume tomes that give exacting details on operation of a complex piece of machinery. These materials are more than instructions or a list of components. They reflect the priorities and approaches that companies and individuals take with products, as well as the artistic and visual efforts to make an item clear to the reader.

This collection is a cool example of how fair use provides a framework for the Internet Archive to share critical knowledge with consumers. At the same time, it provides a historical timeline of sorts for innovation and the development of technology.

From preserving our digital history to providing access to manuals of obsolete devices, fair use helps libraries like ours serve our community. And while there are no doubt a variety of commercial projects that properly rely on fair use, fair use is at heart about the public good. As we celebrate Fair Use week, we should remember the crucial role it plays, and ensure that we preserve and protect fair use for the good of future generations. For more on events and news on Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week, visit FairUseWeek.org.

Book Talk: REPLAY by Jordan Mechner

From Prince of Persia to Replay: A video game creator’s family odyssey

Jordan Mechner (creator of “Prince of Persia”) shares his story as a pioneer in the fast-growing video game industry from the 1980s to today, and how his family’s back story as refugees from war-torn Europe led to his own multifaceted 4-decade creative career. Interweaving of past and present, family transmission, exile and renewal are at the heart of his award-winning graphic novel “Replay: Memoir of an Uprooted Family.”

For general audiences, including anyone interested in video game development, graphic novels, transmedia, or multigenerational family stories.

Book Talk: REPLAY
March 27 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event!

About REPLAY

1914. A teenage romantic heads to the enlistment ofice when his idyllic life in a Jewish enclave of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is shattered by World War I.

1938. A seven-year-old refugee begins a desperate odyssey through France, struggling to outrun the rapidly expanding Nazi regime and reunite with his family on the other side of the Atlantic.

2015. e creator of a world-famous video game franchise weighs the costs of uprooting his family and moving to France as the cracks in his marriage begin to grow.

Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner calls on the voices of his father and grandfather to weave a powerful story about the enduring challenge of holding a family together in the face of an ever-changing world.

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JORDAN MECHNER is an author, graphic novelist, game designer, and screenwriter. He created the video game Prince of Persia in 1989, rebooted it with Ubisot in 2003, and wrote the first screenplay for Disney’s 2010 film adaptation, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. His other games include Karateka and The Last Express. In 2017, he received the Pioneer Award from the International Game Developers Association. Jordan’s graphic novels as writer include the New York Times bestseller Templar (from First Second, with LeUyen Pham and Alex Puvilland), Monte Cristo (Mario Alberti), and Liberty (Etienne LeRoux). Replay is his first book as writer/artist.

Book Talk: REPLAY
March 27 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
Register now for the virtual event!

Book Talk: The Secret Life of Data

How data surveillance, digital forensics, and generative AI pose new long-term threats and opportunities—and how we can use them to make better decisions in the face of technological uncertainty.

Book Talk: The Secret Life of Data
April 18 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET ONLINE
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“I have been waiting a long time for a clearly written book that cuts through the hype and describes how data—big and small, old and new—actually operate in our lives. Neither utopian nor dystopian, The Secret Life of Data just tells it like it is.”   
—Siva Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Media Studies, The University of Virginia; author of Antisocial Media and The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)

In The Secret Life of Data, Aram Sinnreich and Jesse Gilbert explore the many unpredictable, and often surprising, ways in which data surveillance, AI, and the constant presence of algorithms impact our culture and society in the age of global networks. The authors build on this basic premise: no matter what form data takes, and what purpose we think it’s being used for, data will always have a secret life. How this data will be used, by other people in other times and places, has profound implications for every aspect of our lives—from our intimate relationships to our professional lives to our political systems.

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ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS

ARAM SINNREICH is an author, professor, and musician. He is Chair of Communication Studies at American University. His books include Mashed Up, The Piracy CrusadeThe Essential Guide to Intellectual Property, and A Second Chance for Yesterday (published as R. A. Sinn).

JESSE GILBERT is an interdisciplinary artist exploring the intersection of visual art, sound, and software design at his firm Dark Matter Media. He was the founding Chair of the Media Technology department at Woodbury University, and he has taught interactive software design at both CalArts and UC San Diego.

DR. LAURA DENARDIS is Professor and Endowed Chair in Technology, Ethics, and Society and Director of the Center for Digital Ethics at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  Her book The Internet in Everything: Freedom and Security in a World with No Off Switch (Yale University Press) was recognized as a Financial Times Top Technology Book of 2020. Among her seven books, The Global War for Internet Governance (Yale University Press) is considered a definitive source for understanding cyber governance debates and solutions. Professor DeNardis is an affiliated Fellow of the Yale Information Society Project, where she previously served as Executive Director, and is a life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds engineering degrees and a PhD in Science and Technology Studies, and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from Yale Law School.

Book Talk: The Secret Life of Data
April 18 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET ONLINE
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Book Talk: Wrong Way by Joanne McNeil

Join us for a VIRTUAL book talk with author Joanne McNeil about her latest book, WRONG WAY, which examines the treacherous gaps between the working and middle classes wrought by the age of AI. McNeil will be in conversation with author Sarah Jaffe.

This is the first Internet Archive / Authors Alliance book talk for a work of fiction! Come for a reading, stay for a thoughtful conversation between McNeil & Jaffe about the labor implications of artificial intelligence.

February 29 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
VIRTUAL

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WRONG WAY was named one of the best books of 2023 by the New Yorker and Esquire. It was the Endless Bookshelf Book of the Year and named one of the best tech books by the LA Times.

“Wrong Way is a chilling portrait of economic precarity, and a disturbing reminder of how attempts to optimize life and work leave us all alienated.”
—Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

For years, Teresa has passed from one job to the next, settling into long stretches of time, struggling to build her career in any field or unstick herself from an endless cycle of labor. The dreaded move from one gig to another is starting to feel unbearable. When a recruiter connects her with a contract position at AllOver, it appears to check all her prerequisites for a “good” job. It’s a fintech corporation with progressive hiring policies and a social justice-minded mission statement. Their new service for premium members: a functional fleet of driverless cars. The future of transportation. As her new-hire orientation reveals, the distance between AllOver’s claims and its actions is wide, but the lure of financial stability and a flexible schedule is enough to keep Teresa driving forward.

Joanne McNeil, who often reports on how the human experience intersects with labor and technology brings blazing compassion and criticism to Wrong Way, examining the treacherous gaps between the working and middle classes wrought by the age of AI. Within these divides, McNeil turns the unsaid into the unignorable, and captures the existential perils imposed by a nonstop, full-service gig economy.

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About our speakers

JOANNE MCNEIL was the inaugural winner of the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation’s Arts Writing Award for an emerging writer. She has been a resident at Eyebeam, a Logan Nonfiction Program fellow, and an instructor at the School for Poetic Computation.
Joanne is the author of Lurking: How a Person Became a User.

SARAH JAFFE is an author, independent journalist, and a co-host of Dissent magazine’s Belabored podcast.

Book Talk: Wrong Way by Joanne McNeil
February 29 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET
VIRTUAL
Register now!

Once Upon a Click: Librarian’s Fairy Tale Journey with the Internet Archive

Once upon a time, Liz Gotauco fell in love with fairy tales. That is, making videos while retelling them with some quirky twists.

Librarian Liz Gotauco, aka “Cosbrarian” across social media.

By day, Gotauco is a full-time public librarian in Rhode Island. On nights and weekends, she creates content for TikTok, Instagram and YouTube under the name Cosbrarian (a portmanteau of “cosplay” and “librarian”). Gotauco takes a traditional fairy tale or folk tale, writes her own scripts, and films herself telling it — often wearing costumes and using props to make it come alive.

To find the original fairy tales, many of which are in books that are out of print, Gotauco often uses the Internet Archive. She lists her more than 100 stories and sources on her website.

“It has been invaluable to me to have an easily accessible resource like the Internet Archive at my fingertips,” Gotauco said. “Sometimes I’m writing my content on the fly—but I don’t want my time constraints to compromise my research. Being able to quickly find a reputable source is such a gift, especially to those of us without academic library access.”

In her saucy, darker, and wilder versions of fairy tales for adult audiences, she weaves in humor and commentary. Gotauco likes to feature lesser-known folklore from a variety of cultures for her series, “Around the World in 80 Folk Tales.”  Many of these books are old and no longer on library shelves, but she often finds them at the Internet Archive.

“I was blown away that there was so much in the collection,” she said. Gotauco recently found Inuit folk tales and stories from Latin America that she adapted. Her online audience also requests stories from their home countries, and she is intentional about representation in her work.   

Once she discovers books in the Archive, Gotauco said she then sometimes buys a copy to add to her collection at home.

Follow Liz across social media:
TikTok
Instagram
YouTube

Gotauco started as a freelance content creator in 2021. It has almost become a part-time job, as she produces about two videos a week, which are available for free to viewers.

“The responses I’m most happy to get are when I make people laugh,” she said. “Especially since I started during the early pandemic, some people were like, “Wow, I just really needed to smile today and this did it for me.’”

Gotauco is busier these days, but plans to continue producing new content and hopes material continues to be available through the Archive to support her endeavor.

“Fairy tales have always been a part of my life. It’s been nice to indulge in that interest and find other people whose interests are the same,” said Gotauco, who has enjoyed tapping into her love for theater. “It’s partially a performance piece, as well as storytelling. I’ve been able to merge my two personas: the theater kid Liz and librarian Liz.”

Public Domain Day Celebrates Creative Works from 1928

Hundreds of people from all over the world gathered together on January 25 to honor the thousands of movies, plays, books, poems and songs that recently entered the U.S. public domain.

Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney’s 1928 animated film featuring Mickey Mouse, had top billing at the virtual event. Literature now free from restriction for reuse includes Orlando by Virginia Woolf and Tarzan Lord of the Jungle by Edgar R. Burroughs. Sound recordings from 1923 (released on a different schedule) joined the public domain such as ”Down Hearted Blues” by Bessie Smith and ”Who’s Sorry Now” by Isham Jones Orchestra.

WATCH RECORDING:

“There’s so much to rediscover and to celebrate,” said Jennifer Jenkins, director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School. For example, the release of The Great Gatsby into the public domain in 2021 inspired a creative flurry — new versions of the novel from the perspective of different characters, a prequel telling the backstory of Nick Caraway, a young adult remix, and song. “From the serious to the creative, to the whimsical to the wacky, these are all the great things we can do…now that [these works] are in the public domain and free to copy, to share, to digitize and to build upon without permission or fee.”

For an overview of new works in the public domain, view the curated list from the Center for the Public Domain.

Remix Contest

The winning film from the Public Domain Day 2024 Remix Contest was shown as well: “Sick on New Year’s,” by Ty Cummings. Every year since 2021, this contest has invited artists to remix works from its collection to showcase new and creative uses of public domain materials. Fifty films were submitted to this year’s competition, according to Amir Esfahania, artist in residence at the Archive. Learn more about the finalists or watch all the submissions in our recent blog post.

Advocacy

“Celebrating the public domain is not just about vintage references and period-appropriate clothing. It’s about understanding history to inform the present day,” said Lila Bailey, Internet Archive senior policy counsel and co-host of the virtual festivities. “We think there should be time set aside every year to celebrate the immense riches that free and open culture provides to everyone.”

While federal holiday recognition (like MLK Day or Presidents’ Day) for the public domain is unlikely, there was a discussion of an advocacy campaign for establishment of a commemorative Public Domain Day (more along the lines of National Data Privacy  Day or National Whistleblowers Day).

“It only requires a simple resolution in the Senate with high chances of recognition,” said Amanda Levendowski, director of Georgetown Law School’s Intellectual Property and Information Policy Clinic. “Prospects for passage are way better than possible. About 80 percent of proposals are passed — and maybe next year, Public Domain Day will be among them.”

Experts said a successful drive for the designation will require a collaborative effort. A kickoff event will be held February 29 in New York City, hosted by Library Futures, executive director Jennie-Rose Halperin announced.

AI and the Public Domain

The online program also featured a panel discussion on generative artificial intelligence, copyright and artist expression. Experts weighed in on just what should be the copyright status of the outputs of generative AI.

Panelists (clockwise from top left): Lila Bailey (Internet Archive), Heather Timm (artist), Maxximillian (artist), Matthew Sag (Emory Law), and Juliana Castro Varón (Cita Press).

Now, AI tools can turn text or simple descriptions into images that are  genuinely new and often look like exactly the kind of things that people get copyrighted if a human made them, explained Matthew Sag, professor of law, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science at Emory University.

“The copyright office is quite clear that to get copyright, you have to have human authorship. So something created entirely by an unsupervised machine is not eligible for copyright,” Sag said, noting that the courts have recently agreed. “The interesting question is what about when humans are using AI as a tool and directing the output. This is where the controversy really is.”

On the panel, two artists, Heather Timm and Maxximillian, shared how they both leverage AI in the creative process.

Timm said she started using generative AI in 2021 and thinks the copyright office should cover works that have results from it. She has trained AI models on her own physical work and then created something new collaborating with the machine, as well as conceptualized how to blend different pieces of work in a collage or sculpture.  

“I use it almost as a notebook,” Timm said. “If I have a concept or an idea about something on the go, I can immediately prompt that and have it as a placeholder to explore it later.”

As a filmmaker and musician, Maxximillian said she feels passionate about AI and it has saved her time creating animated characters and helping refine her text. “As a professional artist, I rely on copyright to keep viable the works that I produce for clients legally,” said Maxximillian. “It’s important to understand that copyright protection enables the creator to be a steward of that work. The question to consider: Who benefits by denying copyright on AI? I think nobody benefits.”

An open access publisher, Juliana Castro Varón, design director and founder of Cita Press, also addressed the issue. “I believe that AI may pose economic, power, and labor challenges, but I feel very confident that creativity will survive technology,” she said. All books Cita produces are in the public domain for everyone to download. “We are not at all against people using AI for their work, but we continue to hire humans…elevating the work of people is core to our mission.”

***

The event was co-hosted by Internet Archive and Library Futures with support from Creative Commons, Authors Alliance, Public Knowledge, SPARC and Duke Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

Internet Archive an ‘Information Lifeline’ for Librarian Professionally and Personally

When Zeau Modig began as the graduate school librarian at the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) nearly a decade ago, many of the students lived nearby. They came to the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, campus to check out some of the library’s 1,500 print books and make photocopies.

Zeau Modig, librarian

Today, the majority of students live elsewhere in a dozen different countries from Brazil to Hungary—and instruction has moved online. This is driving up demand for e-books. Modig has found resources on the Internet Archive to fill the gap between what her physical library can provide and the needs of her community.

“The Internet Archive has been amazing for us to be able to get material into our students’ hands, and making it accessible, especially for the people overseas studying in less developed countries,” Modig said. “If you’re not in the United States it’s not as easy to get books because of shipping—it could take weeks to get there. The Internet Archive has really been a tremendous help to our students.”

The graduate program attracts students who are often mid-career, working in education, criminal justice, business or any field looking for strategies and scholarship to address conflicts, repair harm, and restore community among individuals and groups. To understand the foundational ideas behind restorative practices, the classes sometimes assign readings of theoretical models that are hard to find. Modig said students often turn to the Internet Archive to find obscure books or journals that have otherwise vanished.

Modig said she values the Archive’s collaboration with Wikipedia to turn reference links in Wikipedia articles blue, connecting citations to the original source content in Archive’s digital collections. This effort gives scholars single-click access to verify information for their research.

“It’s made my life as a librarian so much easier,” Modig said of the Archive. “The faculty, too, most of whom work remotely, really appreciate having books at their fingertips.”

Outside her job, Modig said she uses the Archive for genealogy research, leisure reading and entertainment. She recently discovered a commemorative family reunion volume from 1883 on her French Huguenot relatives that gave her insight into her family history. Inspired by the Netflix series, “The Queen’s Gambit,” Modig checked out the original novel on which the show was based.

“Internet Archive has become an essential information lifeline for my graduate institution’s students and faculty, and also for me personally.”

Zeau Modig, librarian, International Institute for Restorative Practices

Unfortunately, as a result of the publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive’s lending library, “The Queen’s Gambit” is no longer available for borrowing. 

When Modig learned that the book can no longer be checked out to one reader at a time, she paused. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to enjoy this book while I could,” she said. “I hope that the publishers involved in the lawsuit against the Internet Archive will come to realize the advantages that controlled digital lending holds for them as well as for readers, and allow the Internet Archive to restore access to their content.”

“Overall, the Internet Archive has become an essential information lifeline for my graduate institution’s students and faculty, and also for me personally,” Modig said. “It would be deeply disappointing for us if this rich trove of content is no longer available through the Internet Archive.”

Mickey Mouse & Elon Musk Boost Libraries in Viral Week

Last week, Mickey Mouse and Elon Musk helped raise the visibility of library preservation and the Internet Archive’s mission across social media in an unexpected convergence of the public domain, popular culture and the publishers’ lawsuit against our library.

It started less than an hour into the new year. At 12:36am, we posted a 45 second clip from Steamboat Willie to X (formerly Twitter) with the iconic introduction of Mickey Mouse. By the next morning, the video had reached hundreds of thousands of views; by the end of the day, views had climbed into the millions. To date, the clip (above) has been viewed 10.2 million times.

As a result of that interest, people began looking at our profile and older posts. One key user posted a message of support about our blog post highlighting the amicus briefs filed in support of our appeal in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the lawsuit against our library.

That post, and presumably coupled with the visibility from the viral Mickey Mouse tweet, started a groundswell of support for the Internet Archive, with thousands of users sharing their thoughts on the importance of our mission. 

In that chatter, a meme started forming: “Protect the Internet Archive – pass it on

So many people were sharing this sentiment that “Protect the Internet Archive” started trending.

And then Elon Musk weighed in with “Support the Internet Archive!”:  

With Musk’s enormous following on X, activity across our profile and posts skyrocketed, including our reply, but none more so than the post he shared about our appeal. To date, the post has been viewed more than 20 million times. 

But it didn’t stop there. Because of the overwhelming level of support & visibility, we were getting dozens of messages from supporters asking how they can help our cause. In addition to telling our new followers about our mission, we also invited people to tell the publishers to stop suing libraries and sell us ebooks we can own and preserve.

And they did. Hundreds of users shared a message to the publishers with the hashtag #SellDontSue.

And then, like all viral moments, the attention faded. As of today (January 11, 2024), activity around our feed has returned to normal levels.

So what does it all mean??

While our time in the spotlight was brief, it was definitely meaningful. Now that we’ve had a little perspective and distance, we can point to three main takeaways from our viral week:

Takeaway #1: People love the public domain! Mickey Mouse moving into the public domain is a story decades in the making, so no surprise that there was an increased level of interest this year. However, we’ve noted an upswing in engagement for posts about the public domain every January, and excellent attendance at our public domain celebrations. We love the public domain, too, so we’re going to keep promoting the materials moving out of copyright year after year.

Takeaway #2: More people are armed with facts about the lawsuit against our library, and are voicing their support for library digital lending, digital ownership and preservation.

Takeaway #3: We helped more people understand the opportunities (preservation) & challenges (lawsuits) libraries face in the digital age. New people were introduced to our mission, to the legal challenges that libraries are facing in the digital age, and to understanding what’s possible when libraries are allowed to own and preserve materials for the long term.

So, a big thank you to everyone who shared posts, spoke out in support of the Internet Archive, or otherwise helped bring new visibility to our mission and work last week. We are committed to preserving materials in the public domain, fighting the lawsuits against our library, and continuing our mission of providing “Universal Access to All Knowledge”—onward!

The World’s Most Famous Mouse Joins the Public Domain

This year we are welcoming many works from 1928 into the U.S. public domain (books, movies, images, etc.), as well as recorded sound from 1923.

Some of the big events from 1928 include the first machine sliced and wrapped loaf of bread being sold, the fatal Okeechobee hurricane, the failure of the St. Francis Dam in Los Angeles, the discovery of a moldy petri dish that would lead to the creation of penicillin, Amelia Earheart flying across the Atlantic, and a certain mouse making his public debut.

Movies

Everybody’s talking about Mickey. On November 18th, 1928 Steamboat Willie was published, the third Mickey Mouse film by Walt Disney and the first one to be published with sound. The prior two Mickey Mouse films, including Plane Crazy, had not been picked up for distribution so this was the public’s first introduction to the mouse. Steamboat Willie may have been named after another popular movie that came out in 1928, Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr., or perhaps the Vaudeville song, “Steamboat Bill” (popularized in 1910) which was included in the soundtrack (along with the 19th century song “Turkey in the Straw”).

But there were many other movies that debuted in 1928, and here are just a few noted examples:

You have 2 weeks left to remix films from 1928 into a submission for the Public Domain Day 2024 Remix Contest (deadline is January 17!).

Books

The second Winnie the Pooh book called The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne was published in 1928, along with other famous titles such as All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich M. Remarque, Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, and Tarzan Lord of the Jungle by Edgar R. Burroughs. 

Browse some of the books published in 1928 on the site, including

Recorded music from 1923

Recorded sound enters the public domain on a different schedule, and this year we’re welcoming music from 1923.

Looking at our collections, it seems like the only song anyone really cared about was “Yes! We have no bananas” which was recorded by a silly number of musicians (including in Italian and Yiddish!) and even led to them trolling themselves with the “I’ve Got the Yes! We Have No Bananas Blues. Here’s the same artist, Billy Jones, both with bananas and annoyed about the bananas

The Jazz Age was really swinging, and 1923 saw the first recordings by King Oliver’s Jazz Band, including early work from Louis Armstrong on Dipper Mouth Blues. The first recorded example of jazz band boogie-woogie also came out that year, The Fives by Tampa Blue Jazz Band. And dancing the Charleston became a craze in 1923, thanks to Charleston from the 1923 musical “Runnin’ Wild.”

While the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb was found in 1922,  it wasn’t until February of 1923 that the tomb was unsealed and of course the event was memorialized in song, including  Old King Tut by Billy Jones and Ernest Hare, and Tut-Ankh-Amen (In the Valley of the Kings) by S. S. Leviathan Orchestra.

Some popular songs from 1923 that are have joined the public domain include:

Come celebrate the public domain with us in person in San Francisco on January 24th, or virtually on January 25th.