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Internet Movie Database

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about movies, television shows, cartoons, short subjects[?], and video games.

The IMDb has an extensive amount of information on works, including basic details such as actors and directors, plot summaries and reviews, as well as more esoteric information such as trivia, soundtrack listings, aspect ratios, and alternate versions. Actors, directors and writers have their own database entries, listing the movies they contributed to and often also biographies. The expanded database found at http://akas.imdb.com/ can be used to find movies from the title they were released under in many different languages and countries.

Access to the information is free. Any person with an e-mail account and a browser that accepts cookies can set up an account with IMDb, then submit information and vote on works.

History

The database started out in 1990 as a collection of shell scripts created by Col Needham which could be used to search the FAQs posted to the usenet newsgroup rec.arts.movies. In 1993, a centralized e-mail interface for querying the database was created, and in 1994 this interface was extended to allow the submission of information as well. The database then moved to a Web-based interface, which initially ran on a network of mirrors with donated bandwidth. In 1996, the project was incorporated in the United Kingdom to form Internet Movie Database Ltd., and banner ads were added to the web site.

In April 1998, the company was bought by Amazon.com, the current owner.

Copyright issues

All volunteers who contribute content to the database retain copyright to their contributions but grant full rights to copy, modify, and sublicense the content to IMDb. IMDb in turn does not allow others to use movie summaries or actor biographies without written permission. Using filtering software to avoid the display of advertisements from the site is also explicitly forbidden. Only small subsets of filmographies are allowed to be quoted, and only on non-commercial websites. The latter restrictions on the use of data are likely to be unenforceable, as the U.S. Supreme Court in Feist v. Rural ruled that data cannot be copyrighted.

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