The league plans to upload the archives’ collection of 3,000 DVDs in what Mr. Malamud calls an “experiment in crowd-sourced digitization.”
Armed with nothing but a DVD duplicator and a YouTube account, the volunteers have copied and uploaded, among other video clips, an address by John F. Kennedy; a silent film about the Communist “red scare”; a training video on farming; and a Disney film for World War II soldiers about how to avoid malaria, in Spanish. So far, nothing elusive has emerged — but the project is in its infancy.
“It’s a cornucopia of information,” said Justin Grimes, another league volunteer.
The league is a small demonstration that volunteers can sometimes achieve what bureaucracies can’t or won’t. The government’s 10-year broadband plan, to be submitted to Congress this week, will include a vision for Video.gov, a proposed home for video from federal agencies. The proposal is sure to be cheered by people who want the government to put more materials online. But Mr. Malamud and his volunteers are not waiting.
Mr. Malamud, who spends most of his time pushing for broader access to legal documents online, had already uploaded 1,300 videos from other government sources, like the Federal Aviation Administration and National Technical Information Service. But “the motherlode is the archives,” he said.
To put those DVDs online, he needed volunteers, and he found them at CopyNight, a monthly gathering of copyright law enthusiasts that he visited at a restaurant near Union Station last December. (CopyNight members are generally supportive of relaxations to copyright laws.) Mr. Malamud raised the idea a month later.
Here is President John F. Kennedy with a look back at his first two years in office.