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Classic MTV shows from 1980s requested to be removed from Internet Archive on copyright grounds

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Remember when MTV was about music, and music videos, rather than dubious reality programs? Well if you don’t, you had a chance to find out and learn about this part of television history, when several hundred hours of MTV programming from the 1980s recently got uploaded to the Internet Archive.

On Friday, The Verge’s Julia Alexander had a write-up about this content that documents the first steps the cable broadcaster took.

Music videos, VJs, commercials, many of them iconic, were available to today’s internet audiences thanks to a series of uploads that started to appear on the Internet Archive in early April. The uploader is quoted as explaining that the material came from their own VHS tapes of unedited MTV recordings. The material, they said, originates from old sides, torrents, the Facebook group “The Original MTV VJs,” and the Archive itself.

So, it seems like this was a curated selection that provided a glimpse into MTV’s history, the (sub) culture trends of the 80s, and no doubt a chance for a bit of escapism in a dark world of the pandemic and massive disruptions and worries that come with it.

To quote the article’s headline, the uploads were “a trip” – but, as it turned out, a short one.

As owner Jason Scott said on Sunday, these have now been taken down on copyright violation grounds.

According to Scott, the request was made by a copyright holder within their rights to make such a request – but he still suggests this wasn’t actually the right thing to do.

Scott – who’s site is also dedicated to preserving digital documents as a way of providing a historical record of the early internet – argues that content from MTV’s original “music video” years had an impact big enough to justify making it available to the public in general as well as to researchers of the cultural era.

“The continued trend we have is shared culture that is in fact locked down, impossible to untangle, and copyrighted by dozens of entities for over a century after creation,” Scott said, expressing optimism that individuals will still be able to preserve these “commercial artifacts.”

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