Google Video shows Archives' movies

Adding to Google's government customer portfolio, the search engine giant announced it has partnered with the National Archives and Records Administration to make historic movies viewable online for free.

On Friday, Google and NARA officials unveiled a pilot program that lets the public watch 103 films and documentaries from the Archives’ holdings via Google Video, the company’s online video marketplace.

“This is an important step for the National Archives to achieve its goal of becoming an archive without walls,” said U.S. Archivist Allen Weinstein. Before, audiovisual material was only available to researchers at the Archives.

Google and NARA are also discussing how to make the Archives’ documents and records accessible to the public via the Web.

NARA's flagship project is the Electronic Records Archives, the first effort to save government records regardless of format and make them accessible on future hardware and software. It will start as a Web portal that offers public access to NARA's entire inventory, from Civil War-era paper records to the 9-11 Commission report in PDF format, in one place.

Highlights of the Google Video collection include 1930s footage of American Indian reservations, World War II newsreels and the story of Apollo 11’s landing on the moon.

This is not the first time Google has tried to provide online access to government media. Last fall, Google donated $3 million to develop a global digital library for the Library of Congress and libraries around the world.

As a starting point, Google scanned about 5,000 books in the public domain for the library. The public-private partnership, referred to as the World Digital Library, will publish works in the public domain or materials made available with special permission.

Publishers sued Google last year to prevent a separate project, the company’s ongoing efforts to scan every book housed in public and university libraries, including copyrighted works.

Google's collaboration with NARA is the latest in a string of actions to ring up government business. NASA's Ames Research Center and Google will share computer scientists and office space for information technology research and development projects. Google is teaming with public-sector vendors to extend its reach into the defense and intelligence markets. The company recently began selling business tools that apply its Web site's search functions to federal Web sites and intranets.

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