Barely Legal

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Providing unprecendented, free access to primary moving-image historical material is part of a Rick Prelinger's commitment to making public domain works meaningful as such. When Prelinger Archives, an archive housing over 48,000 'ephemeral' films (including educational, industrial, propaganda, advertising and amateur films) was acquired by the Library of Congress last year, more than 1,500 of the key titles were digitized, and made free and available to the public as downloadable MPEG2 files to 'encourage the widespread use of moving images in new contexts by people who might not have used them before.' Iconic films such as 'Duck & Cover' (what to do during a nuclear attack, featuring a caroon turtle) and 'Are You Popular?' get the most hits, but stunning home movies, WPA films, cautionary tales and utopian kitchen tours are easily found as well among these uncopyrighted or copyright-expired films. -- Johanna Fateman