Internet Archive

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Coordinates: 37°48′0″N 122°27′37″W / 37.8°N 122.46028°W / 37.8; -122.46028

Internet Archive
File:Ia logo.jpg
Formation 1996 (1996)
Type NGO
Purpose/focus Online library
Chairman Brewster Kahle
File:Feb 2008 San Francisco Wikimedia Meetup 01.jpg
Internet Archive headquarters was in the Presidio, a former US military base in San Francisco, from 1996 to 2009.
File:Christian science church122908 02.jpg
As of Nov 2009, new Internet Archive headquarters at 300 Funston in SF, CA, a former Christian Science Church

The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission: "universal access to all knowledge."[1][2] It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and books. The Internet Archive was founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996.

With offices located in San Francisco, California, USA and data centers in San Francisco, Redwood City, and Mountain View, California, USA, the Archive's largest collection is its web archive, "snapshots of the World Wide Web." To ensure the stability and endurance of the Internet Archive, its collection is mirrored at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, making it the only library in the world with a mirror.[3]

The Archive allows the public to both upload and download digital material to its data cluster, and provides unrestricted online access to that material at no cost. The Archive also oversees one of the world's largest book digitization projects. It is a member of the American Library Association and is officially recognized by the State of California as a library.[4]

In addition to its archiving function, the Archive is an activist organization, advocating for a free and open Internet.

The Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit operating in the United States. It has a staff of 200, most of whom are book scanners in its book scanning centers. Its main offices in San Francisco house about 30 employees. The Archive has an annual budget of $10 million, derived from a variety of sources: revenue from its Web crawling services, various partnerships, grants, donations, and the Kahle-Austin Foundation.[5]



Brewster Kahle founded the Archive in 1996 at the same time that he began the for-profit web crawling company Alexa Internet. The Archive began to archive the World Wide Web from 1996, but it did not make this collection available until 2001, when it developed the Wayback Machine. In late 1999, the Archive expanded its collections beyond the Web archive, beginning with the Prelinger Archive. 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. Recently, the Archive has begun working to provide specialized services relating to the information access needs of the print-disabled.

According to its website:

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.

Wayback Machine

Examples from the Wayback
Machine's archives:

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.[6] This service allows users to see archived versions of web pages of the past, what the Internet Archive calls a "three dimensional index". Millions of websites and their associated data (images, source code, documents, etc.) are saved in a gigantic database. The service can be used to see what previous versions of websites used to look like, to grab original source code from websites that may no longer be directly available, or to visit websites that no longer even exist. Not all websites are available, however, because many website owners choose to exclude their sites.

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 too occurs in popular culture, e.g., in the television show Law and Order: Criminal Intent ("Legacy", first run Aug. 3, 2008), an extra playing a computer tech uses the "Wayback Machine" to find an archive of a student's Facebook style website.

Open Library

The Open Library is another project of the Internet Archive. The site, still in beta, seeks to include a web page database for every book ever published, a sort of Open Source version of WorldCat. It holds 23 million catalog records of books, in addition to the full texts of about 1,600,000 public domain books, which are fully readable and downloadable.[7][8] Open Library is a free/open source software project, with its source code freely available on the Open Library site.


Users who want to archive material permanently, and immediately cite an archived version, can use the Archive-It system, a fee based subscription service.[9] Data collected with Archive-It is periodically indexed into the general Wayback Machine. As of February 2009, Archive-It had created over 724 million URLs for 746 public collections, including government bodies, universities, and cultural institutions. Some of the organizations participating in Archive-It include the Electronic Literature Organization, the State Archives of North Carolina, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Stanford University, the National Library of Australia, the Research Libraries Group (RLG), and many others.

NASA Images 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 NASA Images team works closely with all of the NASA centers to keep adding to the ever-growing collection at The site launched in July 2008 and now has more than 100,000 items online.

Media collections

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. The 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 an "Open Source" sub-collection where general contributions by the public are stored.

Moving image collection

Aside from feature films, IA's Moving Image collection includes: newsreels; classic cartoons; pro- and anti-war propaganda; Skip Elsheimer's "A.V. Geeks" collection; and ephemeral material from Prelinger Archives, such as advertising, educational and industrial films and amateur and home movie collections.

IA's Brick Films collection contains stop-motion animation filmed with Lego bricks, some of which are "remakes" of feature films. The Election 2004 collection is a non-partisan public resource for sharing video materials related to the 2004 United States Presidential Election. The Independent News collection 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. The September 11th Television Archive contains archival footage from the world's major television networks of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 as they unfolded on live television.

Some of the films available on the Internet Archive are:

See also list of films on Wikipedia freely available on the Internet Archive.

Audio collection

The audio collection includes music, audio books, news broadcasts, old time radio shows and a wide variety of other audio files.

The Live Music Archive sub-collection includes over 50,000 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.

Text Collection

The texts collection includes digitized books from various libraries around the world as well as many special collections. The Internet Archive operates 18 scanning centers in five countries, digitizing about 1,000 books a day, financially supported by libraries and foundations.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] Microsoft made its scanned books available without contractual restriction and donated its scanning equipment to its former partners.[13]

Around October 2007 Archive users began uploading public domain books from Google Book Search. [14] As of January 2010 there are almost 900,000 thousand Google-digitized books in the Archive's collection, representing more than half of the total books available from The books are identical to the copies found on Google, except without the Google watermarks, and are available for unrestricted use and download, like all Internet Archive materials.[15]

Controversies and legal disputes

National Security Letter

Template:Double image On May 8, 2008, it was revealed that the Internet Archive successfully challenged an FBI National Security Letter asking for logs on an undisclosed user.[16][17]


In late 2002, the Internet Archive removed various sites critical of Scientology from the Wayback Machine.[18] The error message stated that this was in response to a "request by the site owner."[19] It was later clarified that lawyers from the Church of Scientology had demanded the removal and that the actual site owners did not want their material removed.[20]

Healthcare Advocates, Inc.

In 2003, Healthcare Advocates, Inc. were defendants in a trademark violation lawsuit wherein the prosecution attempted to use archived web material accessed via the Internet Archive. When they lost that suit, the company turned around and attempted to sue the Internet Archive for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. They claimed that since they had installed a robots.txt file on their website, it should have been avoided by the Internet Archive’s web crawlers but was not.[21] The initial lawsuit was filed on June 26, 2003, and they added the robots.txt file on July 8, 2003, so pages should have been rendered unavailable retroactively. The lawsuit with Healthcare Advocates was settled out of court.[22]

Robots.txt is used as part of the Robots Exclusion Standard, a voluntary protocol the Internet Archive respects that disallows bots from indexing certain pages delineated by the creator as off-limits. As a result, the Internet Archive has rendered unavailable a number of websites that are now inaccessible through the Wayback Machine. This is sometimes due to a new domain owner placing a robots.txt file that disallows indexing of the site. The administrators claim to be working on a system that will allow access to that previous material while excluding material created after the point the domain switched hands.[citation needed] Currently, the Internet Archive applies robots.txt rules retroactively; if a site blocks the Internet Archive, like Healthcare Advocates, any previously archived pages from the domain are also rendered unavailable. In cases of blocked sites, only the robots.txt file is archived.

However, the Internet Archive also states that, "sometimes a web site owner will contact us directly and ask us to stop crawling or archiving a site. We comply with these requests."[23] They also say, "The Internet Archive is not interested in preserving or offering access to Web sites or other Internet documents of persons who do not want their materials in the collection."[24]

Suzanne Shell

On December 12, 2005, activist Suzanne Shell demanded Internet Archive pay her US$100,000 for archiving her website between 1999 and 2004.[25] Internet Archive filed a declaratory judgment action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on January 20, 2006, seeking a judicial determination that Internet Archive did not violate Shell’s copyright. Shell responded and brought a countersuit against Internet Archive for archiving her site, which she alleges is in violation of her terms of service.[26] On February 13, 2007, a judge for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado dismissed all counterclaims except breach of contract.[25] The Internet Archive did not move to dismiss copyright infringement claims Shell asserted arising out of its copying activities, which will also go forward.[27]

On April 25, 2007, Internet Archive and Suzanne Shell jointly announced the settlement of their lawsuit. The Internet Archive said, “Internet Archive has no interest in including materials in the Wayback Machine of persons who do not wish to have their Web content archived. We recognize that Ms. Shell has a valid and enforceable copyright in her Web site and we regret that the inclusion of her Web site in the Wayback Machine resulted in this litigation. We are happy to have this case behind us.” Ms. Shell said, “I respect the historical value of Internet Archive’s goal. I never intended to interfere with that goal nor cause it any harm.”[28]

Grateful Dead

In November 2005, free downloads of Grateful Dead concerts were removed from the site. John Perry Barlow identified Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann as the instigators of the change, according to a New York Times article.[29] Phil Lesh commented on the change in a November 30, 2005, posting to his personal website:

It was brought to my attention that all of the Grateful Dead shows were taken down from 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.[30]

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.[31]

Opposition to Google Books Settlement

The Internet Archive is a member of the Open Book Alliance, which has been among the most outspoken critics of the Google Book Settlement as well as advocate for an alternative to its digital library project.

See also

Similar projects



  1. Internet Archive Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Internet Archive: Universal Access to all Knowledge
  3. The Internet Archive at the New Library of Alexandria.
  4. " Internet Archive officially a library", May 2, 2007.
  5. [1].
  6. Green, Heather (February 28, 2002). "A Library as Big as the World: Brewster Kahle has the technology to assemble the ultimate archive of human knowledge. What's stopping him? Restrictive copyright laws". Business Week Online. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  7. Gonsalves, Antone (December 20, 2006). "Internet Archive Claims Progress Against Google Library Initiative". InformationWeek. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  8. "The Open Library Makes Its Online Debut". Chronicle of Higher Education, The Wired Campus. July 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  9. Stefanie Olsen, "Preserving the Web one group at a time", CNet, May 1, 2006.
  11. "Books Scanning to be Publicly Funded", announcement by Brewster Khale, May 23, 2008.
  12. "Bulk Access to OCR for 1 Million Books", via Open Library Blog, by raj, November 24, 2008.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Book search winding down", Live Search Blog. Official announcement from Microsoft. Last accessed May 23, 2008.
  14. Google Books at Internet Archive.
  15. Books imported from Google have a metadata tag of scanner:google for searching purposes. The archive links back to Google for PDF copies, but also maintains a local PDF copy, which is viewable under the "All Files: HTTP" link.
  16. FBI rescinds secret order for Internet Archive records, CNet.
  17. Nakashima, Ellen, "FBI Backs Off From Secret Order for Data After Lawsuit", Washington Post, May 8, 2008.
  18. Bowman, Lisa M (September 24, 2002). "Net archive silences Scientology critic". CNET Retrieved 2007-01-04. 
  19. Jeff (September 23, 2002). "exclusions from the Wayback Machine" (Blog). Wayback Machine Forum. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2007-01-04.  Author and Date indicate initiation of forum thread.
  20. Miller, Ernest (September 24). "Sherman, Set the Wayback Machine for Scientology" (Blog). LawMeme. Yale Law School. Retrieved 2007-01-04.  The posting is billed as a 'feature' and lacks an associated year designation; comments by other contributors appear after the 'feature' .
  21. Dye, Jessica (2005). "Website Sued for Controversial Trip into Internet Past". EContent 28 (11): 8–9. 
  22. Bangeman, Eric (August 31 2006). "Internet Archive Settles Suit Over Wayback Machine". ars technica. Retrieved 2007-11-29. 
  23. Some sites are not available because of Robots.txt or other exclusions.
  24. How can I remove my site's pages from the Wayback Machine?.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Lewis T. Babcock (February 13, 2007). Internet Archive v. Shell (PDF), Civil Action No. 06cv01726LTBCBS.
  26. Claburn, Thomas (March 16, 2007). "Colorado Woman Sues To Hold Web Crawlers To Contracts". InformationWeek. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  27. Samson, Martin. Internet Archive v. Suzanne Shell. via Phillips Nizer LLP.
  28. Internet Archive and Suzanne Shell Settle Lawsuit, April 25, 2007.
  29. Jeff Leeds; Jesse Fox Mayshark (December 1, 2005). "Wrath of Deadheads stalls a Web crackdown". International Herald Tribune (republication of article from New York Times). Retrieved 2007-01-04. 
  30. Phil Lesh (November 30, 2005). "An Announcement from Phil Lesh" (Blog). Hotline. Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  31. Brewster Kahle; Matt Vernon (December 1, 2005). "Good News and an Apology: GD on the Internet Archive" (Blog). Live Music Archive Forum. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2007-01-05.  Authors and date indicate the first posting in the forum thread.

External links

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