The Internet Archive (IA) is a not-for-profit digital library with the stated mission “universal access to all knowledge.” It offers permanent storage and free access to collections of digitised materials, including websites, music, moving images, and over 8.4 million public domain texts, including books.
As of today, the Internet Archive files consist of 2.1+ million moving images, 147,104 live music files, 2.6+ million audio recordings, 112,000 software files, and over 1.1 million images, all of which are in the public domain or are Creative Commons-licensed and are freely available for download.
The Archive provides unrestricted online access to that material at no cost and allows the public to both upload and download digital material.
The text collection includes digitised books from libraries around the world, as well as many special collections.
Via its sister project, the Open Library, the IA seeks to add a record for every book ever published, something like an open-source version of WorldCat. It holds 23 million catalogue records of books, in addition to over 1,000,000 free ebook titles and full texts of about 1,600,000 public domain books, which are fully readable and downloadable.
Millions of websites and their associated data (documents, images, source code, etc.) are saved in the IA’s massive database. It also allows users to see archived past versions of web pages (cached pages), what the Internet Archive calls a “three-dimensional index”. The service can be used to see what earlier versions of websites used to look like, or even to visit websites that no longer exist.
In addition to web archives, the IA maintains extensive collections of digital media that are under a license, such as Creative Commons licenses that allow redistribution or are in the public domain in the United States. The media are organised into collections by type (audio, text, moving images, etc.), and into sub-collections by various criteria.
In addition to feature films, IA’s Moving Image collection includes classic cartoons; newsreels; Skip Elsheimer’s “A.V. Geeks” collection; anti- and pro-war propaganda; advertising; ephemeral material from the Prelinger Archives, such as educational and industrial films and amateur and home movie collections.
The audio collection includes audio books, music, news broadcasts, old-time radio shows as well as a broad mixture of other audio files.
The sub-collection of the Live Music Archive includes over 100,000 concert recordings from independent artists and musical ensembles, as well as from more established artists, all with approval for recording their concerts.
Freely distributable music is hosted via IA’s NetLabel, Lifehacker. This collection hosts complete ‘virtual record labels’ or ‘netlabels’ – non-profit, community-built items committed to providing non-commercial, high quality, freely distributable MP3/OGG-format music – comprising a multitude of genres, often Creative Commons-licensed catalogues that are freely downloadable/streamable. There are over 500 sub-collections available where you can search by collection, media type, keyword, etc. An excellent way to find that ‘just right’ piece for your next project (or your music collection).
Some of the film classics available at the Internet Archive:
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916 Stuart Paton, US)
- Alice in Wonderland (1903 Cecil Hepworth & Percy Stow, UK)
- Battleship Potemkin (1925 Sergei Eisenstein, Russia)
- Blood on the Sun (1945 Frank Lloyd, US)
- Colour of Pomegranates – Sayat Nova (1969 Sergei Parajanov, Russia)
- Dementia 13 (1963 Francis Ford Coppola, US)
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920 John S. Robertson, US)
- Great Expectations (1946 David Lean, UK)
- Hemp for Victory (1942 U.S. Department of Agriculture)
- In the Year 2889 (1967 Larry Buchanan, US)
- M (1931 Fritz Lang, Germany)
- Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992 Mark Achbar & Peter Wintonick, Canada)
- Metropolis (1927 Fritz Lang, German)
- Nosferatu (1922 F. W. Murnau, Germany)
- Pygmalion (1938 Anthony Asquith & Leslie HowardUK)
- Quatermass II (1957 Nigel Kneale, BBC UK)
- The Cat and the Canary (1927 Paul Leni, US)
- The Corporation (2003 Mark Achbar & Jennifer Abbott, Canada)
- The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921 Rex Ingram, US)
- The Grapes of Wrath (1940 John Ford, US)
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923 Wallace Worsley, US)
- The Last Man on Earth (1964 Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow, Italy)
- The Little Shop fo Horrors (1960 Roger Corman, US)
- The Ring (1927 Alfred Hitchcock, UK)
- The Thief of Bagdad (1924 Raoul Walsh, US)
- The Tramp (1915 Charles Chaplin, US)
- Triumph of the Will (1930 Leni Riefenstahl, Germany)
- Vampyr (1932 Carl Theodor Dreyer, Germany)
- Zulu (1964 Cy Endfield, US)