The Internet Archive is a San Francisco–based nonprofit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge." It provides free public access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, software applications/games, music, movies/videos, moving images, and nearly three million public-domain books. As of October 2016, its collection topped 15 petabytes. In addition to its archiving function, the Archive is an activist organization, advocating for a free and open Internet.
The Internet Archive allows the public to upload and download digital material to its data cluster, but the bulk of its data is collected automatically by its web crawlers, which work to preserve as much of the public web as possible. Its web archive, the Wayback Machine, contains over 308 billion web captures. The Archive also oversees one of the world's largest book digitization projects.
Brewster Kahle founded the Archive in 1996 at around the same time that he began the for-profit web crawling company Alexa Internet. In October 1996, the Internet Archive had begun to archive and preserve the World Wide Web in large quantities, though it saved the first pages in May 1996. The archived content wasn't available to the general public until 2001, when it developed the Wayback Machine. In late 1999, the Archive expanded its collections beyond the Web archive, beginning with the Prelinger Archives. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software. It hosts a number of other projects: the NASA Images Archive, the contract crawling service Archive-It, and the wiki-editable library catalog and book information site Open Library. Soon after that, the Archive began working to provide specialized services relating to the information access needs of the print-disabled; publicly accessible books were made available in a protected Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) format.
Most societies place importance on preserving artifacts of their culture and heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. Our culture now produces more and more artifacts in digital form. The Archive's mission is to help preserve those artifacts and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars.
In August 2012, the Archive announced that it has added BitTorrent to its file download options for over 1.3 million existing files, and all newly uploaded files. This method is the fastest means of downloading media from the Archive, as files are served from two Archive data centers, in addition to other torrent clients which have downloaded and continue to serve the files. On November 6, 2013, the Internet Archive's headquarters in San Francisco's Richmond District caught fire, destroying equipment and damaging some nearby apartments. According to the Archive, it lost: a side-building housing one of 30 of its scanning centers; cameras, lights, and scanning equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars; and "maybe 20 boxes of books and film, some irreplaceable, most already digitized, and some replaceable". The nonprofit Archive sought donations to cover the estimated $600,000 in damage.
In November 2016, Kahle announced that the Internet Archive was building the Internet Archive of Canada, a copy of the archive to be based somewhere in the country of Canada. The announcement received widespread coverage due to the implication that the decision to build a backup archive in a foreign country was because of the upcoming presidency of Donald Trump. Kahle was quoted as saying that "on November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions. It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase. Throughout history, libraries have fought against terrible violations of privacy—where people have been rounded up simply for what they read. At the Internet Archive, we are fighting to protect our readers’ privacy in the digital world."
Wayback Machine logo, used since 1996
The Internet Archive has capitalized on the popular use of the term "WABAC Machine" from a segment of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon, and uses the name "Wayback Machine" for its service that allows archives of the World Wide Web to be searched and accessed. This service allows users to view archived web pages. The Wayback Machine was created as a joint effort between Alexa Internet and the Internet Archive when a three-dimensional index was built to allow for the browsing of archived web content. Millions of web sites and their associated data (images, source code, documents, etc.) are saved in a database. The service can be used to see what previous versions of web sites used to look like, to grab original source code from web sites that may no longer be directly available, or to visit web sites that no longer even exist. Not all web sites are available because many web site owners choose to exclude their sites. As with all sites based on data from web crawlers, the Internet Archive misses large areas of the web for a variety of other reasons. A 2004 paper found international biases in the coverage, but deemed them "not intentional".
A purchase of additional storage at the Internet Archive
The use of the term "Wayback Machine" in the context of the Internet Archive has become so common that "Wayback Machine" and "Internet Archive" are almost synonymous. This usage occurs in popular culture, e.g., in the television show Law and Order: Criminal Intent ("Legacy", first run August 3, 2008), an extra playing a computer tech uses the "Wayback Machine" to find an archive of a student's Facebook style web site. Snapshots used to take at least 6–18 months to be added, but now sites can be added in realtime by request by scrolling down the results page. A "Save Page Now" archiving feature was made available in October 2013, accessible on the lower right of the Wayback Machine's main page. Once a target URL is entered and saved, if the target web site permits access via robots.txt, the web page will become part of the Wayback Machine. (If the robots.txt of the web page changes later, it will become inaccessible.)
Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive talks about archiving operations
Created in early 2006, Archive-It is a web archiving subscription service that allows institutions and individuals to build and preserve collections of digital content and create digital archives. Archive-It allows the user to customize their capture or exclusion of web content they want to preserve for cultural heritage reasons. Through a web application, Archive-It partners can harvest, catalog, manage, browse, search and view their archived collections.
In terms of accessibility, the archived web sites are full text searchable within seven days of capture. Content collected through Archive-It is captured and stored as a WARC file. A primary and back-up copy is stored at the Internet Archive data centers. A copy of the WARC file can be given to subscribing partner institutions for geo-redundant preservation and storage purposes to their best practice standards. The data captured through Archive-It is periodically indexed into the Internet Archive's general archive.
As of March 2014, Archive-It had over 275 partner institutions in 46 U.S. states and 16 countries that have captured over 7.4 billion URLs for over 2,444 public collections. Archive-It partners are universities and college libraries, state archives, federal institutions, museums, law libraries and cultural organizations, including the Electronic Literature Organization, North Carolina State Archives and Library, Stanford University, Columbia University, American University in Cairo, Georgetown Law Library and many others.
The Internet Archive Text Archive collection includes digitized books and special collections from various libraries and cultural heritage institutions from around the world. The Internet Archive operates 33 scanning centers in five countries, digitizing about 1,000 books a day for a total of over 2 million books, financially supported by libraries and foundations. As of July 2013, the collection included 4.4 million books with over 15 million downloads per month. As of November 2008, when there were about 1 million texts, the entire collection was over 0.5 petabytes, which includes raw camera images, cropped and skewed images, PDFs, and raw OCR data. Between about 2006 and 2008 Microsoft Corporation had a special relationship with Internet Archive texts through its Live Search Books project, scanning over 300,000 books which were contributed to the collection, as well as financial support and scanning equipment. On May 23, 2008, Microsoft announced it would be ending the Live Book Search project and no longer scanning books. Microsoft made its scanned books available without contractual restriction and donated its scanning equipment to its former partners.
An Internet Archive in-house scan ongoing
Around October 2007, Archive users began uploading public domain books from Google Book Search. As of November 2013 there were over 900,000 Google-digitized books in the Archive's collection: the books are identical to the copies found on Google, except without the Google watermarks, and are available for unrestricted use and download. Brewster Kahle revealed in 2013 that this archival effort was coordinated by Aaron Swartz, who with a "bunch of friends" downloaded the public domain books from Google slow enough and from enough computers to stay within Google's restrictions. They did this to ensure public access to the public domain. The Archive ensured the items were attributed and linked back to Google, which never complained, while libraries "grumbled". According to Kahle, this is an example of Swartz's "genius" to work on what could give the most to the public good for millions of people. Besides books, the Archive offers free and anonymous public access to more than four million court opinions, legal briefs, or exhibits uploaded from the United States Federal Courts' PACER electronic document system via the RECAP web browser plugin. These documents had been kept behind a federal court paywall. On the Archive, they had been accessed by over 6 million people by 2013.
The Open Library is another project of the Internet Archive. The wiki seeks to include a web page for every book ever published: it holds 25 million catalog records of editions. It also seeks to be a web-accessible public library: it contains the full texts of about 1,600,000 public domain books (out of the over five million from the main texts collection), which are fully readable, downloadable and full-text searchable; it offers access to an e-book lending program for over 250,000 recent books not in the public domain, in partnership with over 1,000 library partners from 6 countries after a free registration on the web site. Open Library is a free/open source software project, with its source code freely available on GitHub.
In addition to web archives, the Internet Archive maintains extensive collections of digital media that are attested by the uploader to be in the public domain in the United States or licensed under a license that allows redistribution, such as Creative Commons licenses. Media are organized into collections by media type (moving images, audio, text, etc.), and into sub-collections by various criteria. Each of the main collections includes a "Community" sub-collection (formerly named "Open Source") where general contributions by the public are stored.
The Live Music Archive sub-collection includes over 100,000 concert recordings from independent artists, as well as more established artists and musical ensembles with permissive rules about recording their concerts such as the Grateful Dead, and more recently, The Smashing Pumpkins. Also, Jordan Zevon has allowed Internet Archive to host a definitive collection of his father Warren Zevon concert recordings. The catalog ranges from 1976–2001 and contains 1,137 free songs.
The Great 78 Project aims to digitize 250,000 78 rpm singles (500,000 songs) from the period between 1880 and 1960, donated by various collectors and institutions. It has been developed in collaboration with the ARChive of Contemporary Music and George Blood Audio, responsible for the audio digitization.
The NASA Images archive was created through a Space Act Agreement between the Internet Archive and NASA to bring public access to NASA's image, video, and audio collections in a single, searchable resource. The IA NASA Images team worked closely with all of the NASA centers to keep adding to the ever-growing collection. The nasaimages.org site launched in July 2008 and had more than 100,000 items online at the end of its hosting in 2012.
Occupy Wall Street Flickr archive
This collection contains creative commons licensed photographs from Flickr related to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. This collection contains over 15,000 items.
One of the sub-collections of the Internet Archive's Video Archive is the Machinima Archive. This small section hosts many Machinima videos (see Machinima: Virtual Filmmaking). Machinima is a digital artform in which computer games, game engines or software engine are used in a sandbox mode like mode to create motion pictures, recreate plays or even publish presentations/keynotes. The archive collects a range of Machinima films from internet publishers such as Rooster Teeth and Machinima.com as well as independent producers. The sub collection is a collaborative effort between the Internet Archive, the How They Got Game research project at Stanford University, the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences and Machinima.com.
The Internet Archive holds a collection of approximately 3,863 feature films. Additionally, the Internet Archive's Moving Image collection includes: newsreels, classic cartoons, pro- and anti-war propaganda, The Video Cellar Collection, Skip Elsheimer's "A.V. Geeks" collection, early television, and ephemeral material from Prelinger Archives, such as advertising, educational, and industrial films and amateur and home movie collections.
Subcategories of this collection include:
IA's Brick Films collection, which contains stop-motion animation filmed with Lego bricks, some of which are "remakes" of feature films.
IA's FedFlix collection, Joint Venture NTIS-1832 between the National Technical Information Service and Public.Resource.Org that features "the best movies of the United States Government, from training films to history, from our national parks to the U.S. Fire Academy and the Postal Inspectors"
IA's Independent News collection, which includes sub-collections such as the Internet Archive's World At War competition from 2001, in which contestants created short films demonstrating "why access to history matters". Among their most-downloaded video files are eyewitness recordings of the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
IA's September 11 Television Archive, which contains archival footage from the world's major television networks of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, as they unfolded on live television.
The Archive has a collection of freely distributable music that is streamed and available for download via its Netlabels service. The music in this collection generally have Creative Commons-license catalogs of virtual record labels.
In September 2012, the Internet Archive launched the TV News Search & Borrow service for searching U.S. national news programs. The service is built on closed captioning transcripts and allows user to search and stream 30-second video clips. Upon launch, the service contained "350,000 news programs collected over 3 years from national U.S. networks and stations in San Francisco and Washington D.C." According to Kahle, the service was inspired by the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, a similar library of televised network news programs. In contrast to Vanderbilt, which limits access to streaming video to individuals associated with subscribing colleges and universities, the TV News Search & Borrow allows open access to its streaming video clips. In 2013, the Archive received an additional donation of "approximately 40,000 well-organized tapes," from the estate of a Philadelphia woman, Marion Stokes. Stokes "had recorded more than 35 years of TV news in Philadelphia and Boston with her VHS and Betamax machines."
Other services and endeavors
An example of another "archived" item
Voicing a strong reaction to the idea of books simply being thrown away, and inspired by the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Kahle now envisions collecting one copy of every book ever published. "We're not going to get there, but that's our goal", he said. Alongside the books, Kahle plans to store the Internet Archive's old servers, which were replaced in 2010.
The Internet Archive has "the largest collection of historical software online in the world", spanning 50 years of computer history in terabytes of computer magazines and journals, books, shareware discs, FTP web sites, video games, etc. The Internet Archive has created an archive of what it describes as "vintage software", as a way to preserve them. The project advocated for an exemption from the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act to permit them to bypass copy protection, which was approved in 2003 for a period of three years. The Archive does not offer the software for download, as the exemption is solely "for the purpose of preservation or archival reproduction of published digital works by a library or archive." The exemption was renewed in 2006, and in 2009 was indefinitely extended pending further rulemakings. The Library reiterated the exemption, as a "Final Rule" with no expiration date, in 2010. In 2013, the Internet Archive began to provide abandonware video games browser-playable via MESS, for instance the Atari 2600 game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Since December 23, 2014, the Internet Archive presents via a browser based DOSBox emulation thousands of DOS/PC games for "scholarship and research purposes only".
It was brought to my attention that all of the Grateful Dead shows were taken down from Archive.org right before Thanksgiving. I was not part of this decision making process and was not notified that the shows were to be pulled. I do feel that the music is the Grateful Dead's legacy and I hope that one way or another all of it is available for those who want it.
A November 30 forum post from Brewster Kahle summarized what appeared to be the compromise reached among the band members. Audience recordings could be downloaded or streamed, but soundboard recordings were to be available for streaming only. Concerts have since been re-added.
On November 28, 2016, it was revealed that a second FBI national security letter had been successfully challenged that had been asking for logs on another undisclosed user.
On August 17, 2011, Middle East Media Research Institute published "Al-Qaeda, Jihadis Infest the San Francisco, California-Based 'Internet Archive' Library", which detailed how members can post anonymously and enjoy free uncensored hosting.
In a story at his Web site, titled "What the heck is going on at Internet Archive?", author Steven Saylor noted: "Sometime in 2012, the entire run of Omni magazine was uploaded (and made available for download) at Internet Archive...Since those old issues must contain hundreds of works still under copyright by numerous contributors, how is this legal?" At least one contributor to the magazine, author Steve Perry, has publicly complained that he never gave permission for his work to be uploaded ("they didn't say a word in my direction"), and it has been noted that all issues containing the work of Harlan Ellison have apparently been taken down. Glenn Fleishman, investigating the question "Who Owns Omni?", writes that "Almost all of the authors, photographers, and artists whose work appeared in the magazine had signed contracts that granted only short-term rights....[No one] could simply reprint or post the content from older issues."
In February 2016, Internet Archive had begun archiving digital copies of Nintendo Power, Nintendo's official magazine for their games and products, which ran from 1988 to 2012. The first 140 issues had been collected, before Nintendo had the archive removed on August 8, 2016. In response to the takedown, Nintendo told gaming website Polygon, "[Nintendo] must protect our own characters, trademarks and other content... The unapproved use of Nintendo's intellectual property can weaken our ability to protect and preserve it, or to possibly use it for new projects,"
Government of India
In August 2017, the Government of India blocked the Internet Archive along with other file-sharing websites, citing piracy concerns after copies of two Bollywood films were allegedly shared via the service.
On October 9, 2016, the Internet Archive was blocked in Turkey.
The Great Room of the Internet Archive features a collection of over 100 ceramic figures representing employees of the Internet Archive. This collection, inspired by the statues of the Xian warriors in China, was commissioned by Brewster Kahle, sculpted by Nuala Creed, and is ongoing.
^Books imported from Google have a metadata tag of scanner:google for searching purposes. The archive provides a link to Google for PDF copies, but also maintains a local PDF copy, which is viewable under the "All Files: HTTPS" link. As all the other books in the collection, they also provide OCR text and images in open formats, particularly DjVu, which Google Books doesn't offer.
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