In the wake of the recent announcements of companies ditching DRM* as a mechanism to control access to audio files, the New York Times is reporting that Sports Illustrated is opening up access to its entire archive.
The Times did this itself not too long ago, as did Atlantic Monthly, but SI's project is supposed to go a step further - not just text, but they're making available their photographs and video and everything. They're also including a handy search interface that lets people search by athlete, team, coach, year, etc.
Hopefully, more and more periodicals will start making their archives available, too (after all, Information Wants To Be Free). This of course would dramatically change the relationships libraries have with long-time vendors like EBSCO, NewsBank and Proquest, but information is information. If all the information is free, then the real value-added piece becomes the interface.
By the way, I found about this through The Huffington Post. I've also read recently about a few more free online resources:
- Largest free** online law library (**free trial, that is, but still)
- 1880-1923 Federal Case Law (to quote Cory: this is "a metric boatload")
- Even more legal research via JD Supra (uploaded by lawyers)
- Television shows from Hulu.com (full episodes, plus season guides)
- Classic literature study guides from Rocketbook (in video, audio and wiki formats)
*update: OverDrive just announced (at PLA, anyway) that they, too, are finally moving in the right direction. In June they'll start offering mp3 files - which, best of all, will be iPod-compatible. And they'll finally come out with a Mac interface, too. Read the entire announcement [pdf, 70kb].