Browse and download over one million public domain movies, audiobooks and live concerts using BitTorrent. It’s all thanks to The Internet Archive, who you might know as the organization behind the Wayback Machine. They’ve started adding torrent files to their massive archive of public domain files, all of which are hosted by two different Archive servers alongside the usual seeders and peers.
Put simply, BitTorrent is now the fastest way to download files from The Internet Archive’s massive collection of completely legal files.
Bittorrent is frequently seen as a piracy tool, and not without reason. However, there are also legal uses for the peer-to-peer technology. Linux fans frequently use BitTorrent to download their favorite distro and there are various sites out there for downloading legal torrents. The Internet Archive added over one million more legal uses for Bittorrent overnight last week when it announced their new torrent files. Just because this stuff is public domain doesn’t mean you won’t find something you like.
Not sure how to use Bittorrent? Check out our free BitTorrent guide - it explains the basics.
Finding Legal Torrents
If the file you check out is audio or video you’ll be able to access it entirely in your browser. This is a great way to check the quality of the file before you commit to downloading, or to simply enjoy the file without downloading.
Ready to download the file? You’ll find plenty of options below the preview, but we’re focusing on BitTorrent today. You’ll find it near the bottom, clearly labeled:
Open that torrent file with your BitTorrent client of choice and the download will begin. Remember – seed generously!
Legal Movie Torrents
Looking for a movie? Head to the Archive’s feature films collection. From there you can search for movies.
Do not expect recent Hollywood blockbusters – all the movies you’ll find here are in the public domain, meaning most are black and white and many are silent-era. Still, the films of Charlie Chaplin are timeless and old science fiction films are unintentionally hilarious, so there is more than enough to explore here.
Legal Audiobook Torrents
Do you prefer to lean back and listen to a good book? There are over 5,000 high-quality audio versions of literary classics for you to discover, all from the Librivox Catalog.
Head to the Archive’s audiobooks page to get started. You’ll like what you find.
Download Live Concerts Legally
If you’re a music fan this is potentially the best part of the site – a massive collection of fan-recorded concerts, all from bands that allow non-commercial taping and distribution. The collection, maintained by the eTree community, offers over 100,000 recordings – so you’re bound to find something you’re into, and again - it’s all completely legal.
As with other sections of the site you can easily preview the files to ensure the audio quality is to your tastes. Check out the live concert offerings now and start exploring.
Download Old-Fashioned Radio Shows
Whether you want to share classic shows with family who remember them or experience some history first-hand, The Internet Archive offers you access to over 2,000 radio shows from the Golden Era. Check out the Archive’s collection of old-time radio shows.
John Gilmore, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, puts it best:
“I supported the original creation of BitTorrent because I believe in building technology to make it easy for communities to share what they have. The Archive is helping people to understand that BitTorrent isn’t just for ephemeral or dodgy items that disappear from view in a short time. BitTorrent is a great way to get and share large files that are permanently available from libraries like the Internet Archive.”
The Internet Archive is showing us what BitTorrent can do to make the world better, by giving us access to classic examples of our collective global culture. Take advantage of it.
And again: seed generously. It saves The Archive bandwidth costs and lets you contribute to the project in a small way.
What’s the best thing you’ve found while exploring The Internet Archive’s torrent offerings? Share with the world in the comments below!