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MTV News Has Been Saved by the Internet Archive (Sort of)

MTV's parent company has pulled the plug, but you can still access decades' worth of journalism.

MTV News Has Been Saved by the Internet Archive (Sort of)
MTV News Has Been Saved by the Internet Archive (Sort of)

MTV News Has Been Saved by the Internet Archive (Sort of)

On May 28, 2002, Paramount Pictures announced it had optioned Avril Lavigne’s song "Sk8er Boi" for a feature film. This news item, along with decades' worth of others both more and less significant in music and pop culture journalism from MTV News, might have been lost forever were it not for The Internet Archive.

Days after Paramount, MTV’s parent company, pulled the plug on over 20 year’s worth of online MTV News content, The Internet Archive added a searchable database of 460,575 web pages from to its Wayback Machine. The archive isn’t complete, and it's not as easy to use as a full website, but it’s way better than letting all that info disappear down the memory hole.

According to a source familiar with Paramount and quoted by Variety, the cost of maintaining and hosting old, low-traffic MTV news pages was higher than the ad revenue they brought in. Paramount’s spokesperson categorized the removal of articles from MTV News’s as part of “broader website changes across Paramount,” designed to introduce “more streamlined versions” of its sites. Paramount has also 86’ed thousands of articles from CMT (Country Music Television) and videos from Comedy Central’s site, including clips from The Daily Show dating back decades.

The Internet Archive contends that it isn't in violation of copyright law because the content it hosts falls under fair use exception, but it’s not clear whether that argument would hold up in court if Paramount asked the Internet Archive to remove MTVNews content and the Archive refused. So if you’re into reliving your youth through paging through hoary MTV News articles, you might want to do if now, just in case.

Last year, a U.S. District Court ruled that fair use didn't allow the Internet Archive the right reproduce the works of book publishers to lend them out to users in a digital lending library, but the Internet Archive is appealing the ruling.

How to use The Wayback Machine for any website

MTV News Has Been Saved by the Internet Archive (Sort of)

Credit: Stephen Johnson - Internet Archive

The Wayback Machine can be used to view archived versions of a lot more than just MTV News. Earlier versions of countless websites have been archives via the Wayback Machine (the name comes courtesy of old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons) is super easy to use. Here’s how to do it:

  • Point your web browser here.
  • Enter the URL of a specific website or relevant search terms in the search window:
  • Click on any date in the calendar on the results page.
  • Enjoy your trip into the past.

If you want to get more fancy with Wayback Machine, you can tell it to archive sites you’re interested in so they’ll (presumably) be viewable forever, or you could install Wayback Machine's browser extension and have Chrome automatically redirect to an archived version of any URL that comes back with a 404 or other error (assuming the site has been archived by Wayback Machine.)

What happened to the Sk8er Boi movie anyway?

Paramount Pictures’ film option for Lavigne’s iconic 'tween romance tune "Sk8er Boi" has long expired, but as of a few years ago, the film is still in development. In a 2022 interview, Lavigne said she was producing the movie herself and looking for a lead actor with “a ton of swag.” Unfortunately, we won't be able to rely on MTV News to keep us up to date on future developments.

The loss of MTV News's archived content was averted due to The Internet Archive adding a searchable database of over 460,000 web pages from to its Wayback Machine, providing a means to access entertainment-related news that might have otherwise been lost to time. Despite the controversial nature of hosting copyrighted material, The Internet Archive argues that it falls under the fair use exception, although the legality of this claim remains unclear.

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