Archive Of Geocities Released As A 1TB Torrent

from the archiving-history dept

In early 2009, Yahoo announced that it was going to put Geocities out of its misery and finally shut down the site entirely, even as it was still getting 11 million unique visitors per month. Soon after the announcement, we had heard about some projects to try to archive the entire site (with some claims that it couldn’t be done in time). The actual shut down occurred almost exactly a year ago, and yet a group calling itself The Archive Team is apparently releasing its entire Geocities archive, blinking flashing “under construction signs” and all, as a nearly 1 TB torrent. They don’t think they got everything, but do believe they archived “a significant percentage” of the site.

It’s worth reading the blog post by the folks who did this explaining why they did it, noting how little people realized that this was basically erasing digital history and culture:

What we were facing, you see, was the wholesale destruction of the still-rare combination of words digital heritage, the erasing and silencing of hundreds of thousands of voices, voices that representing the dawn of what one might call “regular people” joining the World Wide Web. A unique moment in human history, preserved for many years and spontaneously combusting due to a few marks in a ledger, the decision of who-knows for who-knows-what.

This is interesting on a number of levels. It is fascinating how little most people seemed to care about the loss of Geocities. Yes, it was quite an abandoned digital hangout for much of the past decade, but the group is right that it represented an important watershed in recognizing that anyone could be a content creator. I first learned to make websites via a Geocities account (before it was even called Geocities, mind you). And yet, Yahoo just dumped it.

Of course, someone could make the argument that this archive is copyright infringement. I doubt anyone will, but it is an interesting question. The archiving is an important point in preserving digital history, and yet it’s also a moment of massive copyright infringement — technically speaking. This is the sort of bizarrely bad result you get in a world where copyright is automatically given to any content at the moment of creation. Most of the people creating Geocities pages would have no reason (or desire) to copyright what they created, and yet they all got it by default.

Hopefully, no one decides to pursue the copyright issue in any serious manner. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with the parting words of The Archive Team:

While it’s quite clear this sort of cavalier attitude to digital history will continue, the hope is that this torrent will bring some attention to both the worth of these archives and the ease at which it can be lost — and found again.

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Companies: geocities, yahoo

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Comments on “Archive Of Geocities Released As A 1TB Torrent”

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Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It would be kind of crazy to claim ‘copyright’ control over something you originally published in the same format and which would have still been available if Yahoo! hadn’t pulled it down. Obviously, normal copyright (derivative works, etc) would apply as it always had, but it would be ‘highly illogical’ to try and block this availability. Even complaining about the torrent would be silly compared to the ability to spider/download whole sites.

TheOldFart (profile) says:

Re: Category exception

In two words. Tom Waits.

If you think 70’s music wasn’t any good it’s cause you’re listening to pop. The real music of the 70’s was some of the best ever written or recorded.

Need more words?

Dark Side of the Moon.

Want to get the house really rocking? Look at what movies and TV shows have been using for the last 30 years. Good ol’ 1970’s vintage rock and roll, soul and folk music.

So nyeah! :p

Last words (from a quick glance through my CDs)

Jimi Hendrix
Lynrd Skynrd
Steve Goodman
John Prine
Loudon Wainwright III
Bob Marley
Jeff Beck
Allman Bros
Moody Blues
Jackson Browne
Fleetwood Mac
Captain Beefheart
Lou Reed/Velvet Underground
Elton John
Black Oak Arkansas
Eric Clapton/Cream
Black Sabbath
Joan Jett
Grateful Dead
Tom Petty
Jethro Tull
Billy Joel
Weather Report
Return to Forever
Edgar Winter
Dr. John
Steve Miller

R. Miles (profile) says:

Thanks for the advice!

Hopefully, no one decides to pursue the copyright issue in any serious manner.
I’m suing. Hey, if someone’s going to be viewing my web designs of yesteryear, I want compensation!

Okay, kidding here, but the statement is going to be another TD article in the future. I can already see the lawyers salivating as each and every one of those bytes in the 1TB file gets downloaded.

TheOldFart (profile) says:

I'm a hoarder

Emphasis on “old hoar”der.

I use the freebie HTTrack package to nab a copy of any sites that are important to me. (I’m not associated with that project in any way, just a long-time happy user of it)

Yes, I’m a copyright “criminal”, so sue me. I got my best pal’s website safely archived (she died 5 years ago) along with a good friend’s old geocities site that had lots of pictures of our road trip together a decade ago.

I also have a couple of Russian and English grammar reference websites squirreled away. The original sites disappeared more than a decade ago. I found them very handy and they predate the age of shitty Flash/Flex/Silverlight crap that can’t be searched so they’re very easy to use and if I don’t know the correct name of the rule or term I’m looking for, I can just search for examples or related ideas using grep or Windows search.

Nick (profile) says:


I may be wrong, but wouldn’t you have waived copyright protection when you used geocities to create your website?

I don’t know for sure, but I would think anything you uploaded to geocities would effectively have become their property, to be used as they saw fit. But I don’t have the EULA to read so maybe I’m off on that. Anyone know how that would work?

Miso Susanowa (user link) says:

Beverly Hills Internet

*sigh* I began on Beverly Hills Internet, later to become Geocities. I had some extensive pages there, and taught dozens of girls aged 8-14 how to code HTML through that website (yes, I am probably responsible for half of the “hey here’s my cat on the internet!!!” pages of those years *ducks*)

I also created two graphics that are still in use on the net 15 years later (signed in the bits). Geocities was really a defining moment akin to turning over printing presses to the masses.

I for one am clearing space to grab this piece of formative digital history while I can.

Dane says:

Um... why?

I truly do not see the point of this … I mean if y’all wish to download it go right ahead but there is nothing of any use in this torrent that I would ever wish to look at.

Historically significant you say – I say BS it is. I’m not against archiving in general but this is akin to saving every single scribble I made in a pad whilst I was on the phone, on hold and bored. Pointless. Do you love looking at pictures that your friend’s 4 year old made – maybe… out of politeness? OK, now imagine that the pictures you get shown are some complete strangers childs pictures with no face to face contact and now how interested are you? This seems like the same thing TBH. Pointless.

Seems like a pointless exercise and story (other than how it’s pointless to archive this stuff and some people have too much time on their hands…)

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