Federal Times Blogs

Library of Congress wants to stream movies online

Bookmark and Share

In recent years, everything from Netflix to Apple to Hulu has started streaming movies online. Next up: The Library of Congress.

In an interview with the Washington Post on the latest 25 additions to the National Film Registry, Librarian of Congress James Billington said he’s looking for ways to put some of the Library’s notable films online. Billington plans to stream films through Netflix and other similar sites, as well as the Library’s own website.

It’s unclear which films may be offered up for streaming. Studios and creators guarding their copyrights may keep some offline (It’s probably a safe bet that George Lucas, a notorious stickler for how his movies are presented, will restrict “Star Wars” and the newly-honored “Empire Strikes Back”). But Billington sounds optimistic about streaming’s chances:

I hope we’ll be able to work something out, because [the registry] has great educational and inspirational as well as entertainment value.

This year’s additions to the registry include such popular movies such as “Empire,” “The Exorcist,” “All the President’s Men” and “Airplane!” (Cue the “Surely you can’t be serious” jokes.) But it also includes movies like “Cry of Jazz,” a short 1959 film about life in Chicago’s black neighborhoods that features performances by jazz musician Sun Ra and his Arkestra, W.C. Fields’ 1934 “It’s a Gift,” and “Let There Be Light,” a 1946 documentary director John Huston made for the Army — which then censored it — about WWII combat veterans suffering from war-related psychological trauma. Those and other little-known films appear to be ideal candidates for streaming.

And even though Billington didn’t sound interested in enshrining YouTube videos in the Library, he seemed to leave the door open to that possibility. “Everything’s changing so much,” he said. (After all, the Library last year added Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video to the archives.)

Tags: ,


  1. AC Says:
    December 28th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Maybe a good place to start is by throttling copyright terms back to something sane (like 20 years, maximum).

  2. Ron Hyatt Says:
    December 28th, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    …and it will all be edited to comply with today’s party line, whatever that may be. Where do I apply to become an editor?

  3. Art of RetroCollage Says:
    January 3rd, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Will streaming movies be shown for a fee or free?

  4. lhenderson Says:
    January 3rd, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Where does it end, all this bleeding from the treasury? What possible motivation could there be for the LoC to stream video???…instant gratification for the ‘I want it now’ crowd? Stop spending my money on worthless BS!!!