FedFlix federal video archive grows in popularity

Historic film documentaries attain 5 million online viewings on YouTube

Federal agencies' film and video archives are fast becoming a source of streamed entertainment online. The Commerce Department's popular  FedFlix channel on YouTube passed five million views today and the Library of Congress is considering streaming its popular film holdings online.

FedFlix is a three-year-old joint venture of the National Technical Information Service with the non-profit Public.Resource.Org. FedFlix offers free viewing of more than 5,000 government-produced documentary films in the public domain.


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The FedFlix videos cover a wide range of military and civilian subjects. One details the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, and another is titled “Damage Done to Tanks by Mortar Fire.” They span topics that include espionage, disaster response, wildlife, historic events, instruction, health care and leadership.

Under the agreement, Public.Resource.Org receives copies of government videotapes, digitizes them and uploads them to the Internet archive, YouTube and its own stock footage library. It then returns the videos to the government along with a digital copy.

In related news, the Library of Congress is considering live-streaming some of its popular National Film Registry holdings online, according to a recent article in the Washington Post. The National Film Registry is a catalog of popular films archived by the library that have been deemed worthy of historic preservation. It includes such films as “Casablanca” and “All the President’s Men.”

James Billington, the librarian of Congress, told the Washington Post that the registry films are made available to researchers and to the public by various means, including NetFlix and cable television. The library also is considering streaming the films online.

"We're going to be putting a lot of this, hopefully, online," Billington told the Post. "I hope we'll be able to work something out, because [the registry] has great educational and inspirational as well as entertainment value."



About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Thu, Jan 6, 2011 Dennis Mobile, AL

Lets hope the LoC resists corporatist pressures and allows access to it's work without having to pay a fee to Netflix or purchasing a cable subscription.

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