The National Archives and Records Administration, which is said to house more than 200,000 documentaries, newsreels, instructional films, combat footage and research/development films has cooked up a non-exclusive agreement with Amazon.com and its CustomFlix subsidiary to distribute public copies of some of the Archive's holdings.

CustomFlix will make DVDs of the famous footage for purchase, of course, online. The first six are already available on Amazon and are newsreels from the late '50s and early '60s that include the "Kitchen Debate" between Nixon and Krushchev, Castro after the communist revolution in Cuba and Hawaii becoming a state. Each DVD is selling for $19.99, and will later include big moments like coverage of FDR's death and the Nixon/Kennedy debates.

While it's great to see these clips make it out to the public, I can't help but feel disappointed that a place like the great Internet Archive, which already houses lots of old material, isn't in on the deal. Nina Gilden Seavey says that the maintenances of the archives is "such a huge burden on the federal government," but that just seems silly in the shadow of the war, especially, and any other big-budget area like space spending.

So, there's the plus that Amazon and CustomFlix are going to put the money into digitizing the films, but imagine the money they'll rake in for charging 20 bucks a pop for each collection. Clips, I must note, that can be copied for free from the archives themselves in Maryland. At the very least, it's a million times better than the Smithsonian's semi-exclusive deal with Showtime -- one that requires documentarians who use Smithsonian materials to first offer their work to the cable channel.
categories Movies, Cinematical