Archive for the ‘Public Domain, Internet’ Category

The Internet Archive

Posted: February 1, 2010 in Public Domain, Internet

Hello all.   It would be my honor to inform everyone about a website that should be cherished and praised with the likes of Google and Amazon. I proudly offer to you a wealth of information and entertainment not owned by a corporation, but available for free use by everyone. I happily present…

The Internet Archive.

This is a great website. The internet archive, which can be found at, is a collection of public domain and open source materials. Included are movies, books, old-time radio programs and many, many other entertainment mediums.

There are musical groups that give permission to record their live performances. These performances can then be uploaded to the internet archive and conversely be downloaded for your own personal use, and it’s legal. You can download as mp3’s, ogg vorbis or even Lossless files depending on how each concert was uploaded. The most popular musical groups usually do not participate, but there are a few well known ones that do. A few examples are: The Grateful Dead, Smashing Pumpkins, John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Blues Traveler. As of this posting, there are 73,295 concerts waiting to be downloaded for your listening pleasure. A link to the live music archive is found here.

Are you a bookworm? There are close to 2,000,000 different texts to choose from. Yes you read that correctly, 2 MILLION! Of that, 1.25 million are from American libraries. These are not recent publications. You won’t find Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park here, but you will find some of the most revered texts ever put on paper.   Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species is here. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes… Check!. H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine… Check! L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of OZ… Check! We all know that Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, and that Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. Did you know that it was old Dame Gill who wrapped his head in vinegar and brown paper? Check it out here. Go ahead and save the PDF files. Print them out if you like.  No one owns the rights to them. Many texts are rapidly being converted to work with your favorite e-reader if you have one.

With a name like The Internet Archive, you would think that instead of just a place to archive public domain literature, music and movies that it actually archives the internet itself.  Just to clarify, yes, it does that too.  150 Billion (yes, that’s with a B) pages strong .  Use the Way Back Machine and see snapshots of pages long since updated or even gone from existence.

Do you like your books in audio format?  The Internet Archive teams up with LibriVox in giving you public domain books read by volunteers, or Gutenberg Audio Books which has both human and computerized readings.  Want to hear Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, or maybe you have a long plane flight and would like to listen to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.  It’s all free and will play in any mp3 player, or if you wish you can burn them to CD’s.

What if you’re like my father, and enjoy old-time radio programs.  The Internet Archive has those too.  The Jack Benny Show or Abbott and Costello?  Take your pick, or take them both.  Maybe your interest lies in mysteries.  Sherlock Holmes perhaps?  Take a look around the postings and instead of watching high quality, thought-provoking television programming such as The Bachelor or Celebrity Rehab, you could listen to the Grand-daddy of all radio shows.  The one that was broadcast the night before Halloween in 1938 that sent the entire country into a panic.  Orson Wells and the Mercury Theatre’s presentation of The War Of The Worlds.  Turn down the lights and tell me that at more than 70 years after its original broadcast, it can’t send chills down your spine.

If you’d rather watch video as opposed to listening to programs, The Internet Archive offers that too.  Full length movies that you can watch from your computer or download and burn to a DVD are available.  Not new releases, but some classics can be found here.  John Wayne stars in McLintock, a comedy/western from 1963.  Watch John Travolta star in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.  The movies available are mostly black and white, and copyright has not been renewed.  Many older classics won’t be here, but there are a few that may surprise you.

There are also television shows and movie serials that are found here.  Many cartoons from the 40’s and 50’s with racist undertones are found here also.  The original owners chose not to renew the copyright on these, or they changed some aspect and only renewed the new episode with the changes, so the original ones end up in the public domain.  There are also classics like Popeye, Betty Boop, Bonanza or even The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show which can be watched or downloaded from here.

Brick Films, or shows made up entirely of Lego’s are found here.  Machinima, or shows made using pre-existing computer characters, most commonly from first person video games such as Halo can be found here.  Some of them are quite good.

So go ahead and give The Internet Archive the dues it deserves.  There is so much going on here that I’ve only scratched the surface, and given multiple lifetimes, you will be able to appreciate a small portion of what is available. (more…)