Perhaps serving as a reminder to video creators that video sharing platforms are not archival repositories for their media (nor do they claim to be), Google Video will be finally shutting down entirely next month. Starting April 29, videos hosted on Google Video will no longer be available for playback; after May 13, the videos will be removed. Google is encouraging content owners to download or migrate their videos to YouTube before the deadline.
A search for video hosted by video.google.com and tagged with “human rights” returned 3,520 videos. Browsing through these, I found many recordings of human rights-related events and interviews; documentaries and campaign videos; and other non-professional citizen videos. While we at WITNESS are obviously primarily concerned with human rights, there are another 2.5 million videos hosted on the site that are also a part of our contemporary global cultural heritage. What will happen to all the videos whose owners cannot be found or no longer exist? And what if these videos have not been saved elsewhere?
Fortunately, a loose collective of “rogue archivists, programmers, writers, and loudmouths” called Archive Team has stepped in to help archive these videos, with the help of non-profit digital library The Internet Archive, which is providing 140TB of storage space. Archive Team is inviting people to join in a crowd-sourced archival effort by lending bandwidth and processing power to download videos from Google Video and upload them to The Internet Archive before the May 13 deadline. They have posted detailed instructions on how to do this on their wiki page, where contributors are also tracking which videos they are downloading.
The WITNESS Media Archive is not affiliated with the Archive Team in any way, but we are committed to preserving human rights materials and keeping them accessible. With just a little effort and a bit of temporary storage space on a computer, we have captured almost all 3,520 “human rights”-tagged videos in just a few days.
** Update: In response to user feedback, Google announced that it has eliminated the April 29 deadline and is working to automatically migrate videos to YouTube. Content owners can also migrate content to YouTube themselves. Hopefully this means that the videos will remain accessible on the web!