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How to - hopefully - rescue public domain from paywalls (in USA)

FedFlix logo in the public domain Carl Malamud - US technologist, author, and public domain advocate - details an often overlooked problem with content stored in the US National Archives (that is, public domain material) which should be free and easy to access for anybody (online and offline).

Instead, says Malamud: "If you want to watch videos from the National Archives today, they try to talk you into buying a DVD from the official government partner, Amazon.Com. The government web site has a 320x240 2 minute preview, using an old Microsoft codec, and all the search results encourage you to purchase from 'our partner, Amazon.Com.'"

In announcing his testimony on December 16 before the House Oversight Committee on the topic "History Museum or Records Access Agency? Defining and Fulfilling the Mission of the National Archives and Records Administration," he further explains: [7dec09]

"I've got nothing against Amazon selling this stuff. It is public domain, after all. But, I do have a real problem when the government deliberately cripples itself by not making video available to all. To demonstrate to the Congress that if we liberated this wonderful content people would really care, I forked over $251 for 20 DVDs and posted them on-line."

Recently Malamud has set up the nonprofit, headquartered in Sebastopol, California, to work for the publication of public domain information from local, state, and federal government agencies. They also launched FedFlix, a joint venture with the National Technical Information Service: "Each month they send us government videotapes. We upload them to the Internet Archive and YouTube, then send the government back their videotapes and a digital copy for their files. No cost to them, more data for all of us."

Read full article on boingboing.

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