Google, Italy's Luce Archives Plan to Digitalize More Than 100,000 Films (Video)

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ROME – U.S. Internet giant Google and Cinecitta Luce, Italy’s largest film archive, unveiled an ambitious collaboration project Thursday, aiming to digitalize all of Luce’s more than 100,000 films and 3 million photos and making them available cost free.

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Around 30,000 of the films, which date back to the 1920s, are already available on a special channel created by YouTube, which is a Google subsidiary. Even though the initiative was not unveiled until Thursday, officials said the channel has been attracting an average of 50,000 hits per day over the previous ten days, a level sure to rise in the wake of the official announcement.

Google said it is making the archives available to the public free of charge, while Luce is granting access to its massive collections without cost, though the agreement between the two companies funnels some of the revenue from advertising tied to visits to the special channel to Cinecitta.

The Cinecitta film studios and the Luce archives date back to 1927, when they were created by Italy’s then leader Benito Mussolini, who used them as a propaganda tool. Luce is still known for having the world’s largest collection of films and images of Mussolini, and it is also rich in videos from the Vatican, the 1960 Olymics in Rome, and sceners from generations of every-day life in Rome. Cinecitta, meanwhile, has been home to hundreds of classic films, ranging from Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Joseph Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra, and William Wyler’s Ben-Hur to more recent productions like Martin Scorcese’s Gangs of New York and The Life Aquatic from Wes Anderson.

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According to Carlo d’Asaro Biondo, president of operations at Google for Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Cinecitta Luce President Rodrigo Cipriani, the agreement will not only make the archives more widely available, it will represent a revenue stream for Cinecitta Luce and will help protect the films from piracy.

“I think this is a wonderful example of how it is possible to make culture available to more people,” Cipriani said at a media briefing.

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