May 23, 2013

Knight Foundation 

The Knight Foundation has given $1 million to the Internet Archive so it can expand its TV News Search & Borrow project, a library of television news broadcasts.

The expansion will help Internet Archive make the library more searchable and increase the content available to historians, journalists, documentarians and others who use the service.

“One of the things that we’re going to be putting the Knight funding towards is really looking at this interface,” Roger Macdonald, director of the Search & Borrow project, said by phone. The improvements will “make it easier for people to do what has been a fairly novel thing.”

The TV archives’ search function runs on closed captioning texts. Because television broadcasts in the U.S. have to provide closed captioning services, they are transcripted as they air. Users can search for clips that have specific keywords in the captioning, and can further refine their search with additional keywords, time constraints, searches by channel or program and more.

“We’re trying to model some of the values of treating television as data,” said Macdonald.

Journalists can search for relevant transmissions and link back to the website for 30-second clips. They can also search within a specific broadcast for a different clip. Users can’t download video, but they can request a DVD copy of the broadcast from the Archive and pay processing fees for it to be sent.

Because the archive is a research tool and not-for-profit, it doesn’t face the same issues with copyright as a company like Aereo, which streams broadcast television to its online subscribers.

“I’m seeing a preservation of the culture and not an effort to make money off of other people’s intellectual property,” Alison Steele, a lawyer who represents Poynter, said in a phone interview. “I think that’s a huge distinction.”

Related reading: ABC, CBS and other networks take second swing at Aereo

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