The Internet Archive over at archive.org is a non-profit that is building a digital library of Internet sites, accessible via the Wayback Machine, and other forms of culture in digital form. It is one of the largest repositories for books, music, images and movies which are all freely available for download at the site.
Up until now, users who visited the website could either download the files directly to their computers, or in the case of media files, stream the contents instead. Today, over one million torrents (currently 1.399,074 torrents) have been made available including the sites live music converts, a movie and audio book collection, and lots of books.
Torrent downloads have been added to the list of regular download options on the site. According to archive.org, downloads should be faster than regular downloads as they are served from two high speed servers and - of course - community seeders and peers who either have downloaded the files completely already or are in the process of doing so.
The move to embrace Bittorrent is significant for a number of reasons. First, it highlights that Bittorrent is not just about the dark side of the Internet, about copyright infringement and the downloading of the latest commercial games, movies, TV shows or music for free. It too can be used for legal purposes, and what better way to demonstrate the power than to offer the archive.org collection as torrents.
It could also mean a significant bandwidth reduction for the maintainers of the site, as part of the traffic is now handled by peers who are downloading and seeding particular files.
The cooperation between The Internet Archive and Bittorrent Inc brings one of the largest free digital file collections on the Internet into the focus of the torrent community. And while you may not find the latest blockbusters and Pop albums here, you'll find lots of masterpieces of the past here.
Torrents are tracked on a special hotlist page that is highlighting current statistics, trends, and top 25 torrents in various categories.
And if you are looking for recommendations, I suggest you start with the Computer Chronicles archive on the site even though it is not offered as torrent downloads yet. The show covers a variety of topics, from computer systems of the past like the C-64 or Amiga, to virtual reality, a profile of Bill Gates or the arrival of Cd-Rom drives. It is a trip down memory lane and definitely fun to watch.
If you fancy a movie, you could check out the feature films collection, which is part of the larger movies collection. Here you find Film Noir movies of the 40s and 50s, classic Sci-Fi and horror movies including classics such as Plan 9 from Outer Space or original The Fast and the Furious movie.
Have you been to archive.org lately? If so, would you recommend and items?