Thursday, July 5, 2012 | 12:02 PM
Italy is home to a rich cinema tradition. The first Italian movie was filmed only a few months after the Lumiere Brothers patented their cinematographe - when Pope Leo XIII was shown for a few seconds in the act of blessing the camera. From the futurists to the neorealists, Italian movies always have been at the cutting edge.
Today, at the Rome headquarters of Italy’s Ministry of Culture, we’re proud to announce a partnership with Istituto Luce-Cinecittà aimed at preserving much of this valuable heritage. More than 30,000 clips from the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà’s archive are being put online on a special YouTube channel. These include historical newsreels shown in Italian cinemas over 40 years. Many feature Italy’s great film stars, including Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida. YouTube viewers will be able to search and surf through the immense amount of film thanks to themed playlists,
This announcement represents an important step in our efforts to safeguard Italy’s rich culture and allow global public access to it. Over the past few years, Google has, among other efforts, featured Italy’s national monuments in our World Wonders project, and partnered with leading Italian museums for the Google Art project. When imagery of the famed Pompei ruins went online on Street View, the number of visitors to the site soared.
The Istituto Luce-Cinecittà partnership not only preserves and spreads Italian culture, but also serves as a powerful tool to give a second commercial life to this vast archival treasure. Istituto Luce-Cinecittà will use our Content ID, a free technological solution designed to protect copyright on YouTube. We already have more than 30,000 Content ID partners in the world and more than a hundred in Italy. At the same time, cinephiles from all over the globe will be able to enjoy this archive without paying any entry fee. Instituto Luce-Cinecittà will benefit from advertising sold alongside its clips on YouTube.
The deal demonstrates how Italy is moving to embrace the web. Although recent studies show that the digital economy accounts for only 2% of GDP - compared to 7% in the UK - the net’s contribution is set to double over the next two years. ECommerce expanded by 20% last year over 2010, according to NetComm. In a country suffering from high unemployment, and particularly high youth unemployment, the net is creating jobs: for every 10% of increased Internet use, London School of Economics professors estimated in a recent report that youth employment grew by almost 1.5%. This online boom is coming during a period of financial crisis, without requiring any additional government spending.
Our project with Istituto Luce-Cinecittà is one of the first partnerships to bring back to life a film archive anywhere in the world. Instead of fearing the net, one of Italy’s most venerable names in culture is seizing a giant opportunity to both preserve - and profit - from its rich artistic heritage. We look forward to working with the Italian movie industry to achieve both of these laudable goals.