File sharing activists like to argue that swapping music and movies is not just about getting content for free, but about preserving the world's knowledge in a decentralized fashion. Some folks from the Pirate Cinema Berlin now decided to put their money PHP coding skills where their mouth is and created a huge database for films that are available on P2P networks called 0xdb.

0xdb

From the 0xdb website:

"What the 0xdb provides is, essentially, full text search within movies, and instant previews of search results. The core idea behind the 0xdb is that file-sharing networks can not only be used to download digital works, but also to just retrieve information about them. Even though most movies in the 0xdb are copyrighted, and many of them are practically inaccessible for legal reasons, the monitoring of peer-to-peer traffic allows the 0xdb to identify and index these materials."

0xdb

Yes, you read that one right. Full text search. 0xdb makes use of the subtitle files people share on P2P networks to make movies searchable by keywords, which actually is pretty damn clever. Subtitle files are already time-coded, so all 0xdn does is mapping the subtitles against time-stamped screenshots of the movies.

0xdb

0xdb also offers a somewhat abstract timeline of each film that is based on pixel-based renderings of the movie, with each second representing one pixel on the screen. Users are able to navigate through the timeline and request short Flash clips from each scene.

There are also flash clips available in scene mode, which obviously raises some copyright issues. 0xdb does refer to fair use principles and they might have a good case - after all, the site doesn't allow any movie downloads, and the clips are more like quotes than anything else. Finally, many movies listed right now aren't indexed yet, and most of them shouldn't even be on the radar of big rights holders. The site looks more like the database equivalent to an art house theater that specializes in showcasing 1960ies French cinema than anything else.

0xdb

0xdb does also collect additional material about each movie, including posters and credits, and the site is linking out to a bunch of other sites to provide some more background info. One final feature that I really like is the maps view - it basically shows locations related to a movie on a Google map. All of this makes 0xdb a really interesting project, if only to show of what's possible once you make all knowledge universally available online.

Update: I've noticed a high number of referrers from 0xdb in my server logs. Turns out that the 0xdb index page sometimes redirects visitors back to the previous site when they click on the enter button, probably due to some weird Javascript bug ... it should work the second time around though. You can also try to go the 0xdb about page first and then click through to the main site.

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