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AP to Put Nearly 17,000 Hours of Archival News Footage on YouTube

News org, together with British Movietone, aims to promote licensing deals with filmmakers

The Associated Press is uploading more than 550,000 video clips to YouTube — covering news events dating back to 1895 — which the news org said will be the largest collection of archival news content on the Google-owned platform to date.

AP, together with newsreel archive provider British Movietone, will deliver more than 1 million minutes of digitized film footage to YouTube. The goal: to provide high-profile, searchable repositories that let documentary filmmakers, historians and others find news footage, and to promote licensing deals for rights to use the video.

The archival footage includes major world events such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, exclusive footage of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. Celeb footage includes Marilyn Monroe captured on film in London in the 1950s and Twiggy modeling fashions of the 1960s, as well as segments on Muhammad Ali, Charlie Chaplin, Salvador Dali, Brigitte Bardot and Elvis Presley.

The content is available on two YouTube channels: AP Archive and British Movietone, whose collection spans from 1895 to 1986. Last year, U.K. newsreel archive company British Pathé uploaded its entire 100-year library of 85,000 historic films in HD to YouTube, comprising some 3,500 hours of footage.

Much of the material AP is putting on YouTube is already searchable and available to preview on aparchive.com. Alwyn Lindsey, AP’s director of international archive, said putting the content on the world’s biggest Internet-video platform will increase the exposure of the collection.

“We found documentary filmmakers tend to start their searches for footage on YouTube, and this gives them a route back to AP,” Lindsey said.

Eventually, AP may look to monetize the archive video collection on YouTube with ads, Lindsey said. The news org has been uploading the archives to YouTube over the last few weeks, at a rate of about 30,000 stories a day.

“The AP Archive footage, combined with the British Movietone collection, creates an incredible visual journey of the people and events that have shaped our history,” Lindsey said. “At AP we are always astonished at the sheer breadth of footage that we have access to, and the upload to YouTube means that, for the first time, the public can enjoy some of the oldest and most remarkable moments in history.”

Separately, AP operates a breaking-news channel on YouTube. The org adds select news footage to the AP Archive after 48 hours.

AP will continually refresh the archives on YouTube to provide historical context for current events, according to Lindsey. For example, after video recently surfaced of Queen Elizabeth II giving a Nazi salute in the 1930s, the org’s archivists found newsreels from the period showing how commonplace the gesture was in prewar England, including a 1938 clip in which the English national football team performs the Nazi salute before a match against Germany. “That’s shocking now, but it wasn’t at the time,” he said.

Watch an overview video for the AP Archive on YouTube:

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