Category Archives: News

Building a Better Internet: Internet Archive Convenes DC Workshop

Photo of workshop participants, by Caralee Adams

Thought leaders from libraries, academia, and civil society gathered at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C., on June 23 to discuss how to best advance policies that improve the ease, affordability and equity in how people access knowledge in the digital age.

Convened by the Internet Archive, this workshop was designed as a continuation of a conversation that the public interest community, including Internet Archive, Creative Commons, Public Knowledge, Library Futures, and the Wikimedia Foundation, started last summer around building a better internet centered on public interest values.

While U.S. lawmakers’ focus on internet policy has largely been directed at reigning in the “Big Tech” commercial platforms, this workshop took a different approach. Rather than centering the challenges with today’s for-profit, commercial platforms, the workshop centered the barriers libraries face and potential opportunities for them to help solve challenges with our digital information ecosystem.

Our hope as organizers was that we could map the terrain, find common ground, and identify areas for further discussion. And even in a short amount of time, we were able to do that in spades. Here are a few of our key learnings, and what’s next.

Key Opportunities

Participants recognized that libraries could fill an important gap in the current online environment, as they have done for hundreds of years offline–indeed, providing free access to high quality, trusted information is libraries’ primary mission. As our information ecosystem becomes increasingly digital, the world often looks to libraries to do even more. For instance, scholar Joan Donovan has suggested that platform companies hire 10,000 librarians to help curate their services and support access to quality information. Others have suggested libraries could be doing fact checking, building and hosting social media networks, and more. One important way to combat misinformation is with better information provided by libraries; however, this is not without its challenges.

Key Barriers

Participants identified two significant barriers for full library participation in the digital information ecosystem as media consolidation and copyright overreach by powerful publishers. The group discussed a wide range of possible solutions to these challenges including antitrust scrutiny, contract preemption, supporting a robust public domain, controlled digital lending, and digital ownership.


The group was motivated by a desire to serve the public over commercial interests, and expressed their commitment to making sure equity was woven through all proposals in a thoughtful and authentic manner. Libraries support access to information and creative empowerment for all. We understand that a better internet must work for everyone, including underserved and vulnerable populations.

As the organizers of this event, we are very grateful to all the participants for contributing their time and expertise to this effort. Up next, we will hold virtual workshops to include additional members of the community in these discussions followed by the publication of a longer report with our findings and policy recommendations. Stay tuned for future updates as this effort moves forward.


July Book Talk: The Library: A Fragile History

“A comprehensive and fascinating deep dive into the evolution of libraries… Bibliophiles should consider this a must-read.”—Publishers Weekly

Perfect for book lovers, this is a fascinating exploration of the history of libraries and the people who built them, from the ancient world to the digital age.

Join historian Abby Smith Rumsey for a book talk & conversation with Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen, authors of The Library: A Fragile History.

REGISTER NOW

Many have decried the perilous state of the library in the 21st century, a situation that was made only worse when public libraries across the world were forced to shut their doors in the face of a global pandemic. But across centuries of existence, libraries have faced ruin from war, fire, neglect, and dispersal—only to be reborn again.

In The Library, historians Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen trace the extraordinary history of the institution, from the famed collections of the ancient world to the modern public resource of today. Along the way, they encounter the librarians, historians, readers, supporters and antagonists that have shaped the library and its offerings over centuries. Do libraries last? Register for our book talk to find out from the authors.

Purchase a copy from our local bookstore, The Booksmith.

July Book Talk: The Library: A Fragile History
Historian Abby Smith Rumsey in conversation with authors Andrew Pettegree and Arthur der Weduwen.
July 20 @ 9am PT
Register now for this virtual event

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

Abby Smith Rumsey is a writer and historian focusing on the creation, preservation, and use of the cultural record in all media. She writes and lectures widely on analog and digital preservation, online scholarship, the nature of evidence, the changing roles of libraries and archives, and the impact of new information technologies on perceptions of history, time, and identity. She is the author of When We Are No More: How Digital Memory is Shaping our Future (2016).

Andrew Pettegree is Professor of Modern History at St Andrews University, where he directs the Universal Short Title Catalogue, a database of information about all books published before 1650. A leading expert on the history of book and media transformations, Pettegree is the award-winning author of several books on the subject. He lives in Scotland. 

Arthur der Weduwen is a historian and postdoctoral fellow at St. Andrews, where he serves as an associate editor of the Universal Short Title Catalogue. This is his fifth book. He lives in Scotland.

Save our Safe Harbor, continued: Internet Archive Supports Libraries and Nonprofits in Submission to the Copyright Office

As many of our readers will know, Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is the 1998 law that established the notice-and-takedown system that protects online platforms of all kinds—including, libraries, archives, and other nonprofits—from liability for the copyright infringement of others. While the law is not perfect, the safe harbor provided by the DMCA has been important in allowing libraries, nonprofits, and other smaller participants to harness the power of the internet and play a meaningful role in the online information ecosystem. More broadly, as our friends at the Wikimedia Foundation have noted, “Section 512 is crucial to the functioning of many of the most popular and important segments of the Internet, and the creative expression that happens there.”

Unfortunately, Section 512 has been under attack for some time. In addition to various legislative proposals, the United States Copyright Office has repeatedly been asked to conduct work on Section 512 that could threaten the safe harbor status of libraries and nonprofits and the communities of their patrons and users. In 2016, for instance, Internet Archive submitted comments to the Copyright Office’s first large Section 512 study, as outlined in a blog post entitled “Save our Safe Harbor“—there, we noted the special importance of the DMCA to “libraries and other nonprofit organizations” which rely in substantial part on volunteer communities and which “are unlikely to be able to bring to bear the sorts of resources [available to] larger commercial entities.” Then again in 2020, as the Copyright Office kept working towards Section 512 reform, the Internet Archive (in collaboration with the New York University Technology Law & Policy Clinic) urged the Copyright Office to consider how changes to the DMCA could have “disproportionately negative impacts on public service non–profits such as the Internet Archive and our patrons.”

This year, the Copyright Office is continuing with ever more work streams on DMCA reform. And while the conversation remains dominated by the commercial interests of some of the world’s largest corporations, Internet Archive has again submitted comments seeking to correct this imbalance. Most recently, in a May 27, 2022 comment on the Copyright Office’s study of Section 512(i) Standard Technical Measures, we emphasized that—notwithstanding industry attempts to use Section 512(i) to impose burdensome technical mandates which could threaten all but the largest commercial intermediaries—nothing in the law “admits of a standard technical measure which would impose substantial burdens and costs on libraries [and] non-profits.”

The DMCA Safe Harbors, while imperfect, have been essential to the ability of libraries, nonprofits, and others to develop public-interest-minded spaces online. And while much has changed since the DMCA’s enactment, it is as important as ever that our legal and regulatory systems allow library and other public interest spaces to flourish online.

GITCOIN Grants: Donate a Few Tokens, Defend a Public Treasure

CALLING ALL COMMUNITY MEMBERS:

In just a few months, the lawsuit Hachette v. Internet Archive will be heard in court. In 2020, four of the world’s largest publishers sued our non-profit library to stop us from digitizing books and lending them for free to the public. The publishers and the corporations who own them, including News Corp and Bertelsmann, are demanding $20 million in damages and that we destroy 1.4 million digitized books. What’s really at stake? The right of all libraries to own, digitize and lend books of any kind. (Here’s what Harvard’s copyright advisor has to say about the consequences of our case.) Starting today, make a small donation through Gitcoin and have an enormous impact for the defense of Internet Archive, through Gitcoin’s quadratic funding.

Today, Gitcoin Grant Round 14 opens, supporting advocacy groups around the world. When you donate even $1 worth of crypto to the Internet Archive, it can result in $3-400+ from the matching pool. Quadratic funding rewards the number of community members who give, along with the amount. So many small donations can really have an enormous impact.

This is an example of the matching funds allotted in a previous Gitcoin Grant round.

HOW TO DONATE:

  1. First you’ll need to create or log in your Github account. 
  2. Use that account to authorize in to Gitcoin.  
  3. Choose one or both of our gitcoin grants here:
  1. You’ll need a crypto wallet like Metamask or Rainbow Wallet with some Ethereum or other tokens.
  2. Select how much you want to donate. (For example: .003 ETH = about $5.00 US)
  3. Do you want to also add some money to the matching pool? Be sure to set an amount in that field as well.
  4. Hit the “I’m Ready to Checkout” button.
  5. In the drop down menu, pick Standard Checkout, Polygon, or zkSync.
  6. Connect and log in to your crypto wallet to pay.
  7. BONUS: You can verify your identity by creating a Gitcoin Passport via Ceramic to maximize the matching funds (up to 150%).
  8. The more people who give, the greater the percentage of the matching pool we receive.
Checkout module for the Gitcoin Grant 14 Advocacy Round.

Thank you for taking these steps to unleash huge support for the Internet Archive, helping us pay the millions of dollars in legal fees we have already incurred. Your support helps ensure the Wayback Machine, Open Library, and all our games, concerts, books and films will be available to you for free for a very long time.

A New Approach To Understanding War Through Television News: Introducing The TV News Visual Explorer & The Belarusian, Russian & Ukrainian TV News Archive

For more than 20 years, the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive has monitored television news, preserving more than 9.5 million broadcasts totaling more than 6.6 million hours from across the world, with a continuous archive spanning the past decade. Today just a small sliver of that archive is accessible to journalists and scholars due to the inaccessibility of video at this scale: fast forwarding through that much television news is simply beyond the ability of any human to make sense of. The small fraction of programs that contain closed captioning, speech recognition transcripts or OCR’d onscreen text can be keyword searched through the TV Explorer and TV AI Explorer, but for the majority of this global multi-decade archive, there has until now been no way for researchers to assess and understand the narratives of television news at scale, especially the visual landscape that distinguishes television from other forms of media and which is so central to understanding many of the world’s biggest stories from war to pandemics to the economy.

As the TV News Archive enters its third decade, it is increasingly exploring the ways in which it can preserve the domestic and international response to global events as it did with 9/11 two decades ago. As a first step towards this vision, over the last few months the Archive has preserved more than 46,000 broadcasts from domestic Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian television news channels, including (in the order they were added to the Archive) Russia Today (part of the Archive since July 2010 but included in this collection starting January 1), Russian channels 1TV, NTV and Russia 1 (from March 26) and Russia 24 (from April 25), Ukrainian channel Espreso (from April 25) and Belarusian channel Belarus 24 (from May 16).

Why preserve television news coverage in a time of war? For journalists today it makes it possible to digest and report on how the war is being framed and narrated, with an eye towards how these narratives influence and shape popular support for the conflict and its potential future trajectory. For future generations of scholars, it makes it possible to look back at the contemporary information environment and prevailing public information, perspectives, and narratives.

While there are myriad options for the general public to watch these channels today in realtime, there is no research-oriented archival interface designed for journalists and scholars to understand their coverage at the scale of days to months, to scan for key visuals and events and to comment, discuss and illustrate how nations are portraying major stories.

To address this critical need, today we are tremendously excited to unveil the Television News Visual Explorer, a collaboration of the GDELT Project, the Internet Archive’s Television News Archive and the Media-Data Research Consortium to explore new approaches to enabling rapid exploration and understanding of the visual landscape of television news.

The Visual Explorer converts each broadcast into a grid of thumbnails, one every 4 seconds, displayed in a grid six frames wide and scrolling vertically through the entire program, making it possible to skim an hour-long broadcast in a matter of seconds. Clicking on any thumbnail plays a brief 30 second clip of the broadcast at that point, making it trivial to rapidly triage a broadcast for key moments. The underlying thumbnails can even be downloaded as a ZIP file to enable non-consumptive computational analysis, from OCR to augmented search.

Machines today can catalog the basic objects and activities they see in video and generate transcripts of their spoken and written words, but the ability to contextualize and understand the meaning of all that coverage remains a uniquely human capability. No person could watch the entirety of the Archive’s 6.6 million hours of broadcasts, yet even just the 46,000 broadcasts in this new collection would be difficult for a single researcher to watch or even fast forward through in their entirety. Television’s linear format means coverage has historically been consumed a single moment at a time like a flashlight in a darkened warehouse. In contrast, this new interface makes it possible to see an entire broadcast all at once in a single display, making television news “skimmable” for the first time.

The Visual Explorer and this new research collection of Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian television news coverage represent early glimpses into a new initiative reimagining how memory institutions like the Archive can make their vast television news archives more accessible to scholars, journalists and informed citizens. Beneath the simple and intuitive interface lies an immensely complex and highly experimental set of workflows prototyping both an entirely new scholarly and journalistic interface to television news and entirely new approaches to rapidly archiving international television coverage of global events.

Over the coming weeks, additional channels from the TV News Archive will become available through the new Visual Explorer, as well as a variety of experiments with the new lenses that tools like automatic transcription and translation can offer in helping journalists and scholars make sense of such vast realtime archives.

Get Started With The Television News Visual Explorer!

About Kalev Leetaru

For more than 25 years, GDELT’s creator, Dr. Kalev H. Leetaru, has been studying the web and building systems to interact with and understand the way it is reshaping our global society. One of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013, his work has been featured in the presses of over 100 nations and fundamentally changed how we think about information at scale and how the “big data” revolution is changing our ability to understand our global collective consciousness.

New additions to the Internet Archive for May 2022

Many items are added to the Internet Archive’s collections every month, by us and by our patrons. Here’s a round up of some of the new media you might want to check out. Logging in might be required to borrow certain items. 

Notable new collections from our patrons: 

Books – 52,300 New items in May

This month we’ve added books on varied subjects in more than 20 languages. Click through to explore, but here are a few interesting items to start with:

Audio Archive – 89,325 New Items in May

The audio archive contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users. Explore.

LibriVox Audiobooks – 92 New Items in May

Founded in 2005, Librivox is a community of volunteers from all over the world who record audiobooks of public domain texts in many different languages. Explore.

78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings – 112 New Items in May

Listen to this collection of 78rpm records, cylinder recordings, and other recordings from the early 20th century. Explore.

Live Music Archive – 807 New Items in May

The Live Music Archive is a community committed to providing the highest quality live concerts in a lossless, downloadable format, along with the convenience of on-demand streaming (all with artist permission). Explore.

Netlabels223 New Items in May

This collection hosts complete, freely downloadable/streamable, often Creative Commons-licensed catalogs of ‘virtual record labels’. These ‘netlabels’ are non-profit, community-built entities dedicated to providing high quality, non-commercial, freely distributable MP3/OGG-format music for online download in a multitude of genres. Explore.

Movies – 110 New Items in May

Watch feature films, classic shorts, documentaries, propaganda, movie trailers, and more! Explore.

Knowledge Rights 21 Calls for Action on Library Rights

Last week, Knowledge Rights 21 released a strong call to action to ensure that libraries can continue serving their centuries old role in society of providing access to knowledge to the public. Knowledge Rights 21 is an Arcadia funded project advocating for copyright and open access reform across Europe.

In their Position Statement on eBooks and eLending, Knowledge Rights 21 explains that government action is urgently needed because the market for eBooks now operates outside of the current copyright law that permits libraries to acquire, lend and preserve physical books. Monopolistic behavior by commercial publishers including refusals to sell, embargoes, high prices, and restrictive licensing terms have frustrated libraries’ ability to undertake collection development, hurting those who rely on libraries for education, research, and cultural participation.

The Position Statement demands that “governments must wake up and act now before the rights of citizens to access information and learning through libraries are eroded any further.” The Statement proposes the following clarifications in EU law:

1.The right for libraries to acquire, preserve and make a digital reproduction of
an analogue and / or an electronic book / audiobook that has been made
available in the market under sale or licence;
2. No more copies than have been acquired under 1 above, shall be loaned to
members of the public at any one time. Libraries should have the right to lend
directly to users, as well as via other libraries as part of interlibrary loan;
3. Neither contracts nor technical protection measures shall be enforceable to
prevent this;
4. Any loans made under this shall require the payment of [Public Lending Right] monies by public libraries in line with existing practice with paper and or audiobooks.

The Internet Archive agrees that action on this issue is important and necessary. We are defending these principles in US court, in the lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest publishers over our controlled digital lending program. We look forward to working with Knowledge Rights 21 and the library community “to help libraries not only to survive, but also to flourish” as the EU Court of Justice said in its landmark case supporting eBook lending by libraries.

Recent Report from IFLA: How well did copyright laws serve libraries during COVID-19?

The short answer to this question from a report recently published by IFLA appears to be: not very well at all. The report documents a worldwide survey of 114 libraries, 83% of which said they had copyright-related challenges providing materials during pandemic-related facility closures. The report also provides direct quotes from a series of interviews of library professionals, discussing the challenges they faced and often how difficult digital access to necessary materials such as textbooks has been throughout the last two years. As one librarian from the United States explains:

Times were tough. We were scrambling and worried about so many things – including the health and safety of our students, faculty and colleagues – and trying to spin up as much as possible in the way of service. There are certainly some vendors that we personally like the interactions with, but it felt to me like the publishers saw this as an opportunity just to make more money and not really an opportunity to build stronger connections with us and our library. They offered free things for a very limited period of time.

The report is well worth reading in its 22-page entirety. You can find it here.

Preserving Pro-Democracy Books From Shuttered Hong Kong Bookstore

Albert Wan ran Bleak House Books, an independent bookstore in Hong Kong, for nearly five years, before closing it in late 2021. The changing political climate and crackdown on dissent within Hong Kong made life too uncertain for Wan, his wife and two children. 

As they were preparing to move, Wan packed a box of books at risk of being purged by the government. He brought them on a plane back to the United States in January and donated them to the Internet Archive for preservation. 

The collection includes books about the pro-democracy protests of 2019—some photography books; another was a limited edition book of essays by young journalists who covered the event. There was a book about the Tiananmen Square massacre and volumes about Hong Kong politics, culture and history—most written in Chinese. 

“In Hong Kong, because the government is restricting and policing speech in a way that is even causing libraries to remove books from shelves, I thought that it would be good to digitize books about Hong Kong that might be in danger of disappearing entirely,” Wan said.

“I thought that it would be good to digitize books about Hong Kong that might be in danger of disappearing entirely.”

Albert Wan, owner of the now-closed Bleak House Books

Hearing that Bleak House Books would be shutting its doors, the Internet Archive reached out and offered to digitize its remaining books. As it happens, Wan said his inventory was dwindling quickly. So, he gathered contributions from others, and along with some from his own collection, donated about thirty books and some periodicals to the Internet Archive for preservation and digitization. Wan said he was amazed at how flexible and open the Archive was in the process, assisting with shipping and scanning the materials at no cost to him. (See Hong Kong Community Collection.)

Now, Wan wants others to do the same.

“There are still titles out there that have never been digitized and might be on the radar for being purged or sort of hidden from public view,” Wan said. “The hope is that more people would contribute and donate those kinds of books to the Archive and have them digitized so that people still have access to them.”

Do you have books you’d like to donate to the Internet Archive? Learn more.

Wan said he likes how the Internet Archive operates using controlled digital lending (CDL) where the items can be borrowed one at time, not infringing on the rights of the authors, while providing broad public access.

Before his family moved to Hong Kong for his wife’s university teaching job, Wan was a civil rights and criminal defense attorney in private practice. Now, they are all getting settled in Rochester, New York, where Wan plans to open another bookshop.

Memorial Day BBQ, Live Music and Lost Landscapes at the Internet Archive – Monday May 30, 2022

Calling all SF Cineastes and Archivists!

LOST LANDSCAPES is BACK!! With BBQ and live music too!

Come join the fun this Memorial Day and hang out with us at the Internet Archive.

$1 hotdogs, live music by the Traveling Wilburys Revue then onto a screening of Prelinger Archives’ “Lost Landscapes: Earth, Fire, Air, Water: California Infrastructures“.

Date: Monday, May 30, 2022
When:
5:30 PM BBQ – 6:30 PM Live Music – 8:15 PM Film Screening
Where:
300 Funston Ave., San Francisco, CA
Cost:
$15.00

GET YOUR TICKETS HERE