There’s No Real Plan for Preserving Internet Content. Here’s Why That’s a Problem

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
There’s No Real Plan for Preserving Internet Content. Here’s Why That’s a Problem
Evan Xie

Back in April, image hosting site Imgur – a popular option for users of Reddit and similar forums seeking to post memes or photos – announced a sweeping change to its Terms of Service. As of May 15, the site will no longer host “nudity, pornography, & sexually explicit content,” and it also plans to purge “old, unused, and inactive content” that’s not tied to an active user account. Though some of the terminology in Imgur’s blog post – like “old” and “inactive” – leaves them lots of wiggle room to decide what gets to stay on the site, and they have even allowed a general exception for “artistic nudity,” the overall message is clear: the site plans to rid itself of NSFW content.


No one would deny that Imgur is perfectly within its right to host or not host whatever content it pleases. But the fact remains that, as of May 15, a large chunk of content that has been available on the platform for the entire internet to view and enjoy will simply disappear. In this particular case, most people will likely not notice that anything has happened to old pornographic images from Imgur, many of them uploaded years ago by people who have long since moved on.

Still, the situation points to a much larger issue that has loomed over the internet for its entire life cycle, and seems to still have no immediate answer or solution. Will useful or worthwhile content that’s on the internet always remain available? And if so, whose job is it to preserve and maintain this vast and unruly collection of information and data?

Over time, internet users come to rely on resources like Imgur, to think of them as something of a digital filing cabinet that you can always return to, open up, and find exactly what you need. But websites are not furniture; they’re the public faces of living, active businesses and organizations, and like everything else, they are ephemeral.

Twitter, for example, launched in 2006 and now sits on a massive compendium of real-time data and information about basically every aspect of human life for the last 15 years or so. Despite its utility as a resource and research tool, we now get daily reminders that all of this information is privately owned by a relatively unpredictable man who could do with it whatever he pleases. The Library of Congress used to archive all tweets but gave up in 2017. Now they only hang on to tweets of significant national importance. WhyNow notes that, on just about any big Wikipedia page, jumping down to the footnotes and references leads to a bevy of broken links, either totally dead or pointing to something different than they did when the article was first written.

In the case of Imgur, the Something Awful community has actually jumped in to respond. Forums like Something Awful, which goes back over 2 decades at this point, have been down this road many times before, with services like Flickr, ImageShack, and others once filling the role now occupied by Imgur before they also changed their terms of service or went out of business. So once members of that storied and controversial internet forum heard the announcement about the Imgur purge, they snapped into action and organized a massive project – dubbed the Great Imgur Download Caper – to preserve the image hosting site’s complete library.

This is something of a special case, though. Imgur’s library contains almost entirely still images or brief video clips, which are easy for a big group of interested users to divvy up, download, and personally store. As well, Something Awful is a devoted community, made up of a self-selected group with a particular interest in shocking, sexy, or memeable images. It’s only natural they’d want to preserve the Imgur collection for all times, even if other people are more than happy to see that particular archive go away. (The Verge notes that some on social media have cracked jokes about finally being free of their adolescent Imgur accounts.)

For internet sites and communities with a less passionate following, or with content that’s more time-consuming or cumbersome to download and preserve, casual internet community organization may not be enough to save them from permanent deletion.

Most streaming video platforms don’t provide users with any ability to fully download shows, let alone storing them permanently on a third-party device. While previous generations had physical media releases to fall back on, a lot of films and shows simply don’t get DVD or Blu-Ray releases any more, particularly if they’re widely available on streaming services. So when a streaming platform goes away, often its entire programming library disappears as well. That’s what happened to NBCU’s subscription-based comedy platform, Seeso, the K-pop focused livestreaming app V Live, and the streaming platform launched by Fullscreen Media.

I actually made one of those streaming shows for Fullscreen that disappeared from the internet forever save for the first episode which lives on as a YouTube clip.

To that end, mobile-exclusive streaming service Quibi also folded very quickly, but they worked out a deal to push a lot of their most popular content over to Roku Channel. Some of those Quibi shows have actually lived on in their new home; “Die Hart” and “The Most Dangerous Game” got renewed for second seasons.

The situation got some extra scrutiny earlier this year, when a federal judge ruled in favor of book publishers over the nonprofit Internet Archive, in what could ultimately prove a landmark decision. Four publishing houses – Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House – sued the Internet Archive for “mass copyright infringement.”

The Archive – whose stated goal is providing “universal access to all knowledge” – does not pay to license books from publishers, but practices what it calls “controlled digital lending.” (Under this system, the owner of a book scans their physical copy and then lends out the scanned versions.) They argued that this counted as fair use, but U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl of the Southern District of New York disagreed. The Internet Archive plans to appeal the ruling; in a statement, founder Brewster Kahle argued that “libraries are more than the customer service departments for corporate database products.”

If the ruling stands, it could prove devastating to widespread efforts to preserve internet content. Preservationists rely on non-profits like the Internet Archive (which also runs the popular “Wayback Machine” website showcasing classic internet content) specifically because they aren’t privately-owned companies. A paid subscription platform can’t take over Imgur’s content and claim it for its own; there are copyright issues and legal liabilities to worry about. So for now, this is primarily the domain of libraries, museums, and other community-based organizations. But if they’re under threat of lawsuit for downloading and providing access to copywritten material, it could potentially stymie all their efforts.

🏰 Disney's Epic Investment Stands Out Amidst Gaming Industry Layoffs

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

🔦 Spotlight

In the midst of widespread gaming industry layoffs, a glimmer of positive news emerges as Disney announces a significant move: a $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games. 🏰💰🐭

Image Source: Disney

Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, disclosed late Wednesday, signals a strategic alignment aimed at expanding the success of "Fortnite." The deal enhances Epic's growth prospects after financial setbacks, including layoffs, and strengthens the partnership between the two companies. With Disney gaining a larger equity stake in Epic, the collaboration will broaden the integration of beloved Disney franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Avatar into the game, potentially boosting its appeal and longevity. This significant investment underscores Disney's commitment to interactive entertainment and signifies a shift towards games as a primary revenue stream, aligning with the growing trend of digital engagement among younger demographics. Moreover, the potential for crossover sales of physical Disney products within "Fortnite" and the exploration of new content distribution channels are just some of the opportunities arising from this partnership.

For LA tech, the Disney-Epic Games partnership represents a validation of the region's burgeoning tech and gaming ecosystem. The substantial investment in Epic, who maintains a large Los Angeles office with 1,000+ employees (according to LinkedIn), reflects confidence in the LA’s talent pool and innovation potential. Additionally, this partnership between two industry giants fosters an environment for further collaboration, investment, and growth within LA's tech sector. As Disney and Epic Games deepen their ties and explore new avenues for content integration and distribution, it not only elevates the prominence of LA as a tech hub but also stimulates economic growth and job creation in the region. This partnership highlights LA's unique position as a hub where technology and entertainment converge. With its ability to integrate diverse industries, LA is driving innovation and expansion in digital entertainment. 🚀💸🎮

🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • ProducePay, a financing and marketplace platform for the fresh produce market, raised a $38M Series D led by Syngenta Group Ventures joined by Commonfund, Highgate Private Equity, G2 Venture Partners, Anterra Capital, Astanor Ventures, Endeavor8, Avenue Venture Opportunities, Avenue Sustainable Solutions, and Red Bear Angels. - learn more
  • Blush, an invite-only dating app that drives users to local businesses on dates, raised a $7M Seed Round from individuals like Naval Ravikant. - learn more
  • Mogul, a startup founded last year that provides an overview of an artist's royalty earnings and identifies areas where money is owed but has not yet been collected, raised a $1.9 million seed round from Wonder Ventures, United Talent Agency, AmplifyLA, and Creator Partners. - learn more
  • Avnos, a hybrid direct air capture startup, raised a $36M Series A led by NextEra Energy and joined by Safran Corporate Ventures, Shell Ventures, Envisioning Partners, and Rusheen Capital Management. - learn more
  • AI.fashion, startup whose mission is to help retailers enhance the online shopping experience by providing consumers with virtual try-ons and personalized fashion recommendations, raised a $3.6M Seed Round led by Neo. - learn more
  • Suma Wealth, startup that aims to demystify financial topics and provide culturally relevant content, virtual experiences, and resources to help Latino users navigate financial challenges and opportunities, raised a $2.2M Seed Round . Radicle Impact led, and was joined by Vamos Ventures, OVO fund and the American Heart Association Impact Fund. - learn more
  • 222, a startup that helps users discover their city and meet new people through unique social experiences, raised a $2.5M Seed Round. Investors included 1517 Fund, General Catalyst, Best Nights VC, Scrum Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. - learn more
  • LimaCharlie, a security operations cloud platform, raised a $10.2M Series A led by Sands Capital. - learn more
  • Polycam, an app that uses a smartphone’s sensors to capture 3D scans of objects, raised an $18M Series A co-led by Left Lane Capital and Adjacent, and joined by Adobe Ventures and individuals like Chad Hurley and Shaun Maguire. -learn more.

LA Venture Funds

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $1.5M Pre Seed Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

Venture Waves, Climate Tech Wins, and Silicon Beach's Ongoing Evolution

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Anduril Seeks $1.5B in VC Funds

Defense company Anduril Industries Inc., based in Costa Mesa and founded by Palmer Luckey, is seeking to raise $1.5 billion in fresh funds to boost its valuation to $12.5 billion or more, according to sources quoted by The Information. This fundraising effort, if successful, would mark one of the largest venture capital rounds of the year.

Image Source: Anduril

Anduril recently secured a contract to develop and test small unmanned fighter jet prototypes under the Air Force’s Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) program, beating out major defense companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman. Alongside General Atomics, Anduril will design, manufacture, and test these aircraft, with a final multibillion-dollar production decision expected in fiscal year 2026. This program aims to deliver at least 1,000 combat aircraft to fly in concert with manned platforms and is part of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance initiative. Central to Anduril’s success in this contract is the Fury autonomous air vehicle, acquired through the purchase of Blue Force Technologies. This victory underscores Anduril's rapid advancement in the defense sector, aligning with Luckey's vision of building faster and more cost-effective defense assets. - learn more

Los Angeles Ranks Number 1 in Emerging Climate Tech Hub

The 2024 Emerging Climate Tech Hubs Report by Revolution highlights Los Angeles as a burgeoning center for climate tech innovation. LA's growth in this sector is driven by its diverse talent pool, strong research institutions, and a culture of environmental consciousness. The city's unique mix of legacy industries, such as entertainment and aerospace, alongside emerging tech companies, positions it as a pivotal player in the climate tech landscape. This shift reflects a broader trend of decentralized climate tech funding across the U.S., reducing the historical dominance of California's traditional hubs. - learn more

Silicon Beach: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Assessing the overall health of the startup market is challenging, especially as venture capital funding has decreased by an average of 61% from 2021 to 2023 across the top VC markets in the US. Markets with robust ecosystems in AI, SaaS, Biotech, Healthtech, and Fintech appear to be weathering the downturn better than those focused on Consumer and Gaming industries, areas where Los Angeles traditionally excels.

Percent Change In VC Funding By Region

CB Insights

LA Times paints a rather bleak outlook on the Los Angeles tech scene noting venture capital funding in Greater Los Angeles plummeted 73% from 2021 to 2022. Silicon Beach, once a vibrant tech corridor, currently faces high vacancy rates and lacks late-stage financiers, especially in the AI sector. However, there are positive signs, including growth in aerospace startups and increased venture capital investment in early 2024, suggesting a potential rebound for LA's tech ecosystem.

While LA may not be exceeding expectations during this period, its tech ecosystem warrants a nuanced evaluation, given the broader market dynamics and its strong performance in specific sectors. Reach out to us with your thoughts.

🚀 SpaceX gears up for another stellar year, active raises, and more

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Happy Friday Los Angeles! You made it through the first week of 2024!

🔦 Spotlight

Elon Musk may be a divisive (albeit entertaining) figure, but the continued success of SpaceX is pivotal for the aerospace industry in Los Angeles and more broadly around the world.

Image Source: SpaceX webcast

What happened with SpaceX in 2023?

  • Elon Musk challenged Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg to a cage fight.
  • SpaceX launched 96 successful missions with its Falcon series of rockets, a 57% increase over its previous annual record.
  • SpaceX conducted two test flights of the largest and most powerful rocket ever built, Starship.
  • Roughly two-thirds of SpaceX's launches in 2023 were devoted to building out Starlink, the company's satellite-internet megaconstellation.
  • Isaacson’s Elon Musk biography was published in September including everything from Musk’s tumultuous relationship with his father to his work ethic and “demon mode”.

Moving forward what can we expect from SpaceX and its controversial founder? Continued innovation pushing the aerospace industry to new limits? Yes. More drama? Without a doubt.

Here is some of what is to come in 2024:

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

Check back next week!

LA Exits

  • CG Oncology, an Irvine, CA-based developer of immunotherapies for bladder cancer, filed for a $100M IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (CGON) with Morgan Stanley as left lead underwriter, and has raised around $317m in VC funding. - learn more
  • McNally Capital agreed to sell Advanced Micro Instruments, a Costa Mesa, CA-based maker of gas analyzers and sensing technologies, to Enpro (NYSE: NPO). - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a hard-tech startup that is developing a technology for decarbonizing natural gas, is raising a $1.5M Seed Round. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Sunday, January 7th

Wednesday, January 10th

  • Startup Cafe: Networking with a Kick - Entrepreneurs, Startups, and Tech Enthusiasts join together to meet and connect with like-minded people, industry professionals and investors, while enjoying a nice cup of coffee in Venice at The KINN. This week’s interactive discussion about AI’s evolution in entertainment will feature Dr. Sam Khoze and Rachel Joy Victor.
  • Venice Tech Happy Hour- Join Startup Coil and FoundrHaus Wednesday evening and enjoy the sunset from the rooftop, grab a bite overlooking Abbot Kinney, and mingle with other tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs by the bar on the patio.

Have an awesome event coming up? Reach out to be featured on next week’s Newsletter!

📙 What We’re Reading

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