There was a fascinating discussion on TWIT 144 with Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive and the Wayback Machine. Kahle is great–he put up a heroic fight against the FBI after it served the Internet Archive in 2007 with a “national security letter” seeking the identity and behavior of an Internet Archive user. The letter circumvented the FISA court and put Kahle and his attorneys under a gag order under penalty of incarceration. Kahle’s discussion of his Kafka-esque battle–except that he won–is inspiring and fascinating. Apparently the FBI served 200,000 such letters in four years. The Internet Archive and Kahle was limited in how it could respond to the suit, so it ended up just suing the goverment (Internet Archive v. Mukasey) with help of the heroic ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In response to a victim who was not willing to just roll over, the FBI instantly wanted to settle, but the Internet Archive would not agree to this until the settlement permitted all this to be public, so that other victims of such “national security letters” might have an idea of how to fight back.
In any event, I was aware of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine but hadn’t realized that Archive.org is trying to be a sort of open library storing books, films, etc., nor that Microsoft had teamed up with Archive.org (see this Dvorak column). Microsoft helped start the project but has backed out; but at least it removed contractual restrictions on the books it had scanned. You can find hundreds of thousands of free books now on the Internet Archive; take, for example, this gorgeous scan of a classic 18th century nursery book Goody Two Shoes.