6 Great Internet Archive Collections To Enjoy As The Digital Library Fight ContinuesImage via Internet Archive Tech Lists digital media
The non-profit Internet Archive has been in the news a good bit in recent weeks, after losing a high-profile legal challenge from four major U.S. book publishers over the digital archive’s National Emergency Library that launched in 2020 during the pandemic to lend e-books for users stuck at home during lockdowns and self-quarantines.
Put simply, the publishers — HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House — challenged the Internet Archive’s practice of lending multiple copies of some of their digital books at the same time. The Internet Archive has lent digital copies of books for well over a decade, but only the number of books the library physically had on hand (basically, the same way a brick and mortal library can only lend the amount of book copies it physically has in house). The Internet Archive argued the expanded lending library fell under fair use, while the publishers characterized the practice as “mass copyright infringement.”
The publishers won the case, which looks to put a stop to the expanded digital lending practice. The Internet Archive isn’t giving up the fight, planning to appeal the ruling.
But even without that emergency library, the Internet Archive still has a whole lot to offer. From concert archives, classic films, TV shows, software and the internet itself via the Wayback Machine web page archive.
Thousands of old concerts
If you’re reading Paste, there’s a decent chance you’re a music junkie. To that end, you could spend weeks getting lost in the internet Archive’s massive Live Music Archive. The collection includes more than 200,000 concerts from artists as varied as The Grateful Dead, My Morning Jacket, Blues Traveler, Elliot Smith, Guster and hundreds more. If you love live music and are looking for a new spot to find some performances, it’s one of the biggest archives out there. And, of course, it’s all free.
The Internet Arcade & Console Living Room
Want to revisit some of the classic arcade and console games from the 16-bit era (and before, and a bit after)? The Internet Archive is home to a massive catalog of classic video games, one of the few places where these works are being preserved and made available for fans to discover and revisit. Visitors can emulate thousands of games straight from your web browser, including arcade classics like NBA Jam, Pac-Man, Defender and more. The Console Living Room project is much the same, featuring classic video game console games available to play thanks to emulation from a web browser.
The Magazine Rack
Print might not be the mainstay it once was as many publications have gone digital-only. But there are still decades upon decades of old print magazines, which represent a snapshot of the world as it was at that moment in time. The Internet Archive’s Magazine Rack project features more than 300,000 digitized magazines, ranging from mainstream publications like Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated and Esquire; to video game and tech mags like GamePro, Retro Gamer; and even classic issues of TV Guide. It’s useful for research, and a great way to revisit some print journalism and reporting that would otherwise be lost to history.
Vast films and TV libraries
The Internet Archive is also loaded with films and TV shows, especially a lot of older and obscure titles that can prove hard to find on modern streaming services. Want to revisit Disney’s Song of the South (a racist piece of period cinema that has largely been erased from the Mouse House’s repertoire) for some reason? It’s there. Looking for classic black and white films and westerns? You’ll find plenty. On the TV side, you can find archived newscasts for posterity, along with seasons of television shows ranging from Farscape to Kojak, 1990s-era TV movies and hours upon hours of old children’s shows. It’s a big mishmash, but there are plenty of gems hidden in the stacks.
The Wayback Machine
Trying to track down an old article from 10 or 20 years ago? Want to relive the Yahoo! homepage as it looked a decade (or two) ago? The Wayback Machine is an invaluable resource for internet historians, archiving more than 800 billion web pages and counting from across the internet. It’s an amazing resource, as easily the biggest and most expansive archive of the internet available to the average person.
Still a whole lot of books
This is still a library we’re talking about, and yeah, there are thousands upon thousands of books. From the classics, newer releases and public domain materials. If you’re just wanting some fresh books to read, the Internet Archive can keep you in books until the end of the world. Then probably a little longer than that, considering they never stop adding new books to the archive.
Trent Moore is a recovering print journalist, and freelance editor and writer with bylines at lots of places. He likes to find the sweet spot where pop culture crosses over with everything else. Follow him at @trentlmoore on Twitter.