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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Christoffer G. Thomsen, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    Wish I had space to store it, but I've got lots of other stuff on my harddrives, and even if I did have the space, it would still take forever to download it (especially if it had to be done without interfering with whatever I'm doing. It's still pretty cool though.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Jose_X, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:01am

    default as share-alike beats default as public domain

    Rather than no copyright default, a share-alike copyright default so that no one else could create derivative works to become locked up unless the author specifically registered and then re-licensed it to those people.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    "Of course, someone could make the argument that this archive is copyright infringement."

    Which means we'll have to wait another 95 or more years before the public is free to view and appreciate it. By then computers will be obsolete and so will the Internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    But without that protection, these content creators will just stop creating content. Good job guys! No more Geocities content! I hope you're proud of yourselves.

    Copyright should last even longer or else culture will die.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: default as share-alike beats default as public domain

    Huh?

    Just public domain, thanks. Gives the lawyers less to do.

     

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  6.  
    icon
    ruth (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    This is where I am. I don't have the space for all that. All I care about is my friend's profile. I would love to read it. She was an avid Geocities user...she took her life about 3 yrs ago & would be nice to reflect back on what she wrote. If I could just download her profile only. But not all of geocities.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Jason, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Category exception

    Yeah, like 70s music, Geocities can go ahead and get deleted.

     

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  8.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re:

    Convince a friend to download it for you and pare it down to only the relevant portion...

     

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  9.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:40am

    The first two responses to this post are exactly the reason this sort of project should continue without drooling copyright lawyers hanging all over it.

    Surely to heaven archival activities are fair use aren't they? They ought to be.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re:

    Depends on how it was structured, you may be able to download pieces of it look and discard.

    Almost all modern bittorrent clients have the ability to look inside the torrent and download bits and pieces.

     

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  11.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re:

    Have you tried the Wayback Machine?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re:

    You could try seeing if it is available on reocities.com (not a typo).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    R. Miles (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    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.

     

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  14.  
    icon
    TheOldFart (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 10:09am

    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.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: I'm a hoarder

    "she died 5 years ago"

    You must first wait 70 years after her death. You have 65 more years to go.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Re: Thanks for the advice!

    But then the lawyers will be infringing. Can we sue them as well?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    TheOldFart (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 10:21am

    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)

    Queen
    Jimi Hendrix
    Lynrd Skynrd
    ELP
    ELO
    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
    Genesis
    Black Oak Arkansas
    Eric Clapton/Cream
    War
    Black Sabbath
    Joan Jett
    Grateful Dead
    Kinks
    Tom Petty
    Yes
    Jethro Tull
    Foghat
    Billy Joel
    Weather Report
    Return to Forever
    Edgar Winter
    Dr. John
    Steve Miller

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Kyle Johnson, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 10:41am

    aw man, the first website I ever built was on Geocities. Part of me kind of wants to try and find it now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 11:06am

    I'm tracking IP addresses right now...

    I'm going to go after all the downloaders for $600 million each. I'm rich!

    Wait. I was too good of a developer to ever have a Geocities account. Curses, foiled again!

    J/K

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 12:02pm

    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.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Category exception

    Ok, I only know some of this, but what I know is /good/ :) But then, I was a little young during the 70s...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Jose, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    rm -rf

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Category exception

    There is a disturbing lack of Rush in your list. ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Paul, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re:

    You can.

    If you use any decent BitTorrent client, such as uTorrent, you'll be able to select only the files that you want. In your case, you can just download her site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    Wow, GeoCities. Blink tag madness.

    Here's one, for old times sake:

    Schrödinger's cat is <blink>not</blink> dead

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Nick (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Copyright?

    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?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    John Breakwell, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Copyright (or Right to Copy) was first started to ~prevent~ people keeping their ideas out of the public domain. After a number of years, the owner would be forced to give them up to the greater good. Over time it has turned around completely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    John Breakwell, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Copyright (or Right to Copy) was first started to ~prevent~ people keeping their ideas out of the public domain. After a number of years, the owner would be forced to give them up to the greater good. Over time it has turned around completely.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    herodotus (profile), Oct 29th, 2010 @ 6:29pm

    Wouldn't the wayback machine have some of this stuff?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    samwyse, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 8:31pm

    Need space?

    "Wish I had space to store it, but I've got lots of other stuff on my harddrives"

    Don't look now, but you can buy 1TB drives for under $60.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 9:37pm

    But for the true Geocities experience, you need to have a script that blocks all access to a site for an hour after you view 10-12 photos and prints a message telling you that the site has exceeded its bandwidth allowance and to please try again later.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Taylor Marek, Oct 30th, 2010 @ 12:41am

    Good Information

    Just proves my point. Yahoo truly has no idea what it has and stupidly walks around deleting and overlooking stuff. Glad I disconnected from them years ago.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Miso Susanowa, Oct 30th, 2010 @ 2:38am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Dane, Oct 31st, 2010 @ 3:48am

    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...)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    David, Oct 31st, 2010 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not possible in this case. The entire site is compressed in the torrent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    San Kay, Nov 25th, 2012 @ 11:16pm

    Torrent

    I think torrent is best for download everything.It also help us to found and compare the downloads.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Sunil K, Nov 26th, 2012 @ 12:30am

    downloads

    all the downloads are available on the torrents.
    its easy to use and download what we want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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