The Internet Archive Is the Web’s Best Kept Movie Secret

A closed silver MacBook lay on the bed, next to a bowl of popcorn.

The Internet has more content than a single person can experience, yet so much has been lost! This is especially true of movies. Most of the early movies were lost decades ago, but with modern technology we don’t need to lose any more.

What is the Internet Archive?

The Internet Archive is a digital library founded in 1996 by Brewster Kahle. The Internet Archive aims to provide free access to all knowledge by collecting and preserving digital content, including websites, books, software, music, and more.

The Internet Archive began as a way to preserve and access the rapidly growing amount of digital content on the Internet. It starts by collecting and archiving websites using web crawlers, creating a digital version of the “Wayback Machine” that allows users to see what a website looked like at a specific point in time. Over time, the Internet Archive has expanded to include a variety of digital media, including books, music, software, and video.

related: What is the Wayback Machine and why is it important?

Today, the Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization supported by donations and grants. It continues to collect and preserve digital content and make it freely available to the public.

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The Internet Archive Has Some True Classic Movies

Internet Archive has a huge collection of movies, including many classics, independent films, and foreign films. Some of the funniest and most famous movies held in the Internet Archive include:

These are just a few of the many fascinating and important movies held in the Internet Archive. If you’re a movie buff, explore the Internet Archive’s collection to discover even more hidden gems and classic movies. Not to mention lost TV show episodes, or TV pilots that never made it to the silver screen!

The Archives Are Much More Than Movies

As mentioned above, the Internet Archive collects a large number of other types of digital content besides movies. Some other types of content available on the Internet Archive include:

  • Books: The Internet Archive houses more than 36 million books.
  • Music: The Internet Archive houses more than 2 million music recordings, including recordings of live concerts, radio broadcasts, and other audio content.
  • Software: Internet Archive’s collection of more than 950,000 software programs and games, including many classic and historical examples.
  • TV: Internet Archive’s collection of over 3 million TV shows, including classic TV shows, news shows, and more.
  • Websites: The Internet Archive houses more than 780 billion web pages, including historical versions of many websites.
  • Audio recordings: The Internet Archive houses more than 15 million audio recordings, including lectures, interviews, and other audio content.
  • Images: The Internet Archive houses more than 4.5 million images, including photographs, illustrations, and other visual media.
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How is the Internet Archive legal?

The Internet Archive is essentially an online public library operating within copyright law and working with rights holders to ensure that the content it collects and preserves is legally accessible. In many cases, content on the Internet Archive is in the public domain or is licensed under Creative Commons or other open licenses that allow free distribution and use.

Of course, intellectual property laws vary from country to country. What is in the public domain in one country may not belong to you. However, all content in the archives is legal in the legal jurisdictions in which it operates.

That doesn’t mean the site is embroiled in lawsuits now and then. For example, there have been legal challenges from copyright owners to the Internet Archive’s “lending library” approach to e-books. Generally, as a site visitor, you don’t need to worry about this.

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related: How to Download Free eBooks Using Amazon Prime

and more cinematic magic

The Internet Archive is undoubtedly one of the largest media repositories on the Internet and an important project for preserving movies, TV shows, and many other media that may disappear. It’s a worthy cause, but if you enjoy exploring the history of cinema, especially recent ones, there are many other hidden gem sites on the web.

Internet Archive isn’t the only online library service offering movies. If you have a library card from a participating library, you can stream movies for free without ads on services like Hoopla and Kanopy.

Genre movie fans in particular will have access to tons of free content in popular genres such as action, horror or more festive flicks. So if you’re scrolling through Netflix and can’t select anything, consider digging into the archives.


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