Viacom Forced Internet Archive to Remove Hundreds of Hours of MTV Broadcasts

A copyright takedown request from MTV's parent company asked the Internet Archive to remove the collection of videos spanning from 1981 to 1991.
Screenshot of the first MTV broadcast.
Screenshot of the first MTV broadcast.

Archivists have uploaded hundreds of hours of MTV VHS recordings from the 1980s and early 1990s to the Internet Archive. The videos have caught the attention of Viacom, which has attempted to have them taken offline.

Starting on May 6, an archivist who goes by Windsinger uploaded his collection of tapes to the Internet Archive, an online library of preserved content where, among a lot of other things, people frequently digitize old tapes.

"This is my personal collection of 80's MTV VHS recordings," Windsinger wrote in the now-removed collection description, which spanned from 1981 to 1991. "I've been collecting recordings of full, unedited, WITH commercials & especially the VJs for years. I've found these videos from old websites, torrent sites, sharing things, The Original MTV VJs facebook page, and of course the Archive."

Viacom didn't respond to a request for comment, but a spokesperson for Internet Archive confirmed that the archive received a copyright takedown request from Viacom.

The archivists are now making sure these can't get taken down forever regardless of any copyright takedown requests. They have created and seeded torrent files of the videos to decentralize their hosting, and have uploaded copies of it to private accounts and to archival sites hosted abroad.

There is, unfortunately, nowhere else online to view these broadcasts other than the places the archivists have saved them. Because of Viacom's persistent takedowns—which the company issues every day, not counting what's on Internet Archive—a huge part of television and music history is missing from the internet.