The Library of Congress is launching an open-source archive of hip-hop samples dating back more than a century

Citizen DJ is the brainchild of Brian Foo, a 2020 Innovator-in-Residence Program at the U.S. Library of Congress. The goal of the project is simple: to provide free audio and video samples to encourage creativity through remixing. Or, in Foo's words:

Cultivate the creation of new and transformative music using free-to-use audio and video materials from the Library. Connect the general public with culturally significant, underutilized, and free-to-use audio and video collections available from the Library. Engage communities, such as secondary school students and amateur musicians, that may have a strong relationship with hip hop music, but little to no existing relationship with the Library or the Library’s materials. Provide the general public (in particular, those with little to no formal research training) with the tools and resources to navigate the United States copyright system in the context of sample-based music creation. Contribute to human-computer interaction research and best practices for search and discovery of large audio and video collections.

As for why, specifically, to take a DJ/hip-hop approach to this kind of project?

Today, collage-based hip hop as it existed in the golden age is largely a lost (or at best, a prohibitively expensive) artform.

I believe if there was a simple way to discover and access free-to-use audio and video material for music making, a new generation of hip hop artists and producers can maximize their creativity, invent new sounds, and connect listeners to materials, cultures, and sonic history that might otherwise be hidden from public ears.

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Library of Congress releases 11,700 freely usable photos of "roadside America," taken by John Margolies

For decades, architectural critic and photographer John Margolies obsessively documented roadside attractions: vernacular architecture, weird sculpture, odd businesses and amusements. By his death in 2016, his collection consisted of more than 11,000 slides (he published books of his favorites, with annotations). Read the rest

Joy Harjo named 23rd Poet Laureate, first Native American to serve in U.S. position of honor

“Words are powerful and can make change when understanding appears impossible.”

The Copyright Office's DMCA-defanging is nice, but man, there are: So. Many. Hoops to jump through

Yesterday's Copyright Office ruling on when you are allowed to break DRM went further than any such ruling in the DMCA's 20-year history, and that's swell, but when you drill into the ruling, it's still a flaming pile of garbage. Read the rest

Behold! The Library of Congress's audacious plan to digitize and share the nation's treasures

The Library of Congress has published its latest digital strategy, laying out a bold plan to "exponentially grow" its collections through digital acquisitions; "maximize the use of content" by providing machine-readable rights data and using interoperable formats and better search; to support data-driven research with giant bulk-downloadable corpuses of materials and metadata; to improve its website; to syndicate Library assets to other websites; to crowdsource the acquisition of new materials; to experiment with new tools and techniques; and to preserve digital assets with the same assiduousness that the Library has shown with its physical collection for centuries. Read the rest

Founder of Diamond Comic Distributors donates 3,000 comics rarities to the Library of Congress

Gary Price writes, "The Library of Congress announced today that collector and entrepreneur Stephen A. Geppi (owner of Diamond Comic Distributors) has donated to the nation’s library more than 3,000 items from his phenomenal and vast personal collection of comic books and popular art, including the original storyboards that document the creation of Mickey Mouse." Read the rest

The old Register of Copyrights snuck a $25M fake line-item into the budget

When the old Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante stepped down from the Library of Congress, it was an open secret that she'd been forced out and there was a lot of Big Content conspiracy theories that Google had gotten her canned because she was too friendly to the movie studios and record labels. Read the rest

Rosa Parks's papers and photos online at the Library of Congress

The Howard Buffet Foundation owns 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photos of civil rights hero Rosa Parks. They've loaned them to the Library of Congress, who've digitized them and posted them online. Read the rest

Digitizing the past and present at the Library of Congress

The world's largest library uses the latest technology to study and scan ancient books, maps and other historical artifacts.