Interview | Brewster Kahle: Libraries’ Role, 3 Internet Battles, Licensing Pains, the National Emergency Library, and the Internet Archive’s Controlled Digital Lending Efforts vs. the Publishers’ Lawsuit

Brewster Kahle is founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, one of the largest libraries in the world. Next to his mission to provide universal access to all knowledge, he is a passionate advocate for public Internet access, as well as a successful entrepreneur (Thinking Machines, Wide Area Information Server and Alexa Internet) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The Internet Archive, which he founded in 1996, preserves petabytes of data – the books, Web pages, music, television, and software of our cultural heritage, working with hundreds of library and university partners to create a digital library, accessible to all. More than 1 million people use the Internet Archive every day. Most of them seek out the Wayback Machine, making 25+ years of web history accessible. He talks about the role of libraries, the Internet battles we’ve faced and are facing, licensing pains, the National Emergency Library, and how the Internet Archive’s efforts to make culture and knowledge accessible through controlled digital lending are threatened by the publishers’ lawsuit against the Archive.

Do you prefer watching our passionate interviewees talking about the 21st-century walls blocking access to culture? Then check out the vlog below.

Video highlights with timestamps:

00:00 Intro

02:38 Brewster shares a little background on the technologies he developed, what inspired him to develop them, and what is happening with them

04:38 Brewster talks about the Internet Archives and the Wayback Machine and what inspired their developments

07:13 Brewster talks about link rot, what it is, how it impacts Internet Archive and other issues that they have also faced

11:42 Brewster talks about copyright and how they are approaching the controversial issue of copyright as the Internet Archive

16:32 Brewster reflects on how link rot affects the law field

18:52 Brewster shares the problem with industries understanding the concept of a digital library as opposed to a brick and mortar library and the role those libraries have with print materials

21:38 Brewster explains how new users of Internet Archive can easily use it and how the pandemic has affected it

28:37 Brewster talks about the evolution of the Internet, the three key battles it faced and what he learned from it

33:51 Brewster talks about how he would like to see copyright evolve to make knowledge, storage, and sharing easier and more widespread

37:19 Brewster suggests the way forward and why there’s still hope to turn the tide

40:26 Brewster expresses his hopes for the next 25 years for the Internet Archive