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Peter Lyman
School of Information Management and Systems
University of California, Berkeley

Problem Statement: Why Archive the Web?

The Web is the largest document ever written, with more than 4 billion public pages and an additional 550 billion connect-ed documents on call in the “deep” Web (Lyman and Varian 2000). The Web is written in 220 languages (although 78 percent of it is in English) by authors from every nation. Ninety-five percent of Web pages are publicly accessible, a collection 50 times larger than the texts collected in the Library of Congress (LC), making the Web the information source of first resort for millions of readers. Nonetheless, the Web is still less than 10 years old, and the economic, social, and intellectual innovation it is causing is just beginning.

The Web is growing quickly, adding more than 7 million pages daily. At the same time, it is continuously disappearing. The average life span of a Web page is only 44 days, and 44 percent of the Web sites found in 1998 could not be found in 1999.1 Web pages disappear every day as their authors revise them or servers are taken out of service, but users become aware of this only when they enter a Universal Resource Locator (URL) and receive a “404­Site Not Found” message. As ubiquitous as the Web seems to be, it is also ephemeral, and much of today’s Web will have disappeared by tomorrow. The implication is clear: if we do not act to preserve today’s Web, it will disappear.

In the past, important parts of our cultural heritage have been lost because they were not archived-in part because past generations did not, or could not, recognize their historic value. This is a cultural problem. In addition, past generations did not address the technical problem of preserving storage media-nitrate film, videotape, vinyl recordings-or the equipment to play them. They did not solve the economic problem of finding a business model to support new media archives, for in times of innovation the focus is on building new markets and better technologies. Finally, they did not solve the legal problem of creating laws and agreements to protect copyrighted material yet at the same time allow for its archival preservation. Each of these problems faces us again today in the case of the Web.

The cultural problem. The very pace of technical change makes it difficult to preserve digital media. How many people can retrieve documents from old word processing diskettes or even find yesterday’s e-mail? All documents follow a life cycle from valuable to outdated, but then, perhaps, some become historically important. Archivists often rescue boxes of documents as they are being transported from the attic on their way to the dump. But the Web is not stored in attics; it just disappears. For this reason, conscious efforts at preservation are urgent. The hard questions are how much to save, what to save, and how to save it.

The technical problem. Every new technology takes a few generations to become stable, so we do not think to preserve the hardware and software necessary to read old documents. Digital documents are particularly vulnerable, since the very pace of technical progress continuously makes the hardware and software that contain them outmoded. A Web archive must solve the technical problems facing all digital documents as well as its own unique problems. First, information must be continuously collected, since it is so ephemeral. Second, information on the Web is not discrete; it is linked. Consequently, the boundaries of the object to be preserved are ambiguous.

The economic problem. Who has the responsibility for collecting and preserving the Web and the resources to do so? The economic problem is acute for all archives. Since their mission is to preserve primary documents for centuries, the return on investment is very slow to emerge, and it may be intangible hence hard to measure. Archives serve the public interest in the very long run, with immediate benefits for only a few scholars. For this reason, they tend to be small and specialized. However, a Web archive will require a large initial investment for technology, research and development, and training-and must be built to a fairly large scale if it is continuously to save the entire Web.

The legal problem. New intellectual property laws concerning digital documents have been optimized to develop a digital economy, thus the rights of intellectual property holders are emphasized. Copyright holders have reason for caution, because the technology is so new and the long-term implications of new laws are unknown. Although the Web is popularly regarded as a public domain resource, it is copyrighted; thus, archivists have no legal right to copy the Web.

And yet it is not preservation that poses an economic threat, it is access to archives that might damage new markets. Finding a balance between preservation and access is the most urgent problem to be solved, because if today’s Web is not saved it will not exist in the future.

Access is a political as well as a legal problem. The answer to the access problem, like the answers to all political problems, lies in establishing a process of negotiation among interested parties. Who are the stakeholders, and what are the stakes, in building a Web archive?

  • For librarians and archivists, the key issue is to ensure that historically important parts of the documentary record are preserved for future generations.
  • For owners of intellectual property rights, the problem is how to develop new digital information products and to create sustainable markets without losing control of their investments in an Internet that has been optimized for access.
  • The constitutional interest is twofold: the innovation policy derived from Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution (“progress in the useful arts and sciences”), and the First Amendment.
  • The citizen’s interest is in access to high-quality, authentic documents, through markets, libraries, and archives.
  • Schools and libraries have an interest in educating the next generation of creators of information and knowledge by providing them with access to the documentary record; this means access based on the need to learn rather than on the ability to pay.

In sum, the policy problem is to find a process for balancing these interests in the long run, including finding a means through which each of the parties can conduct and evaluate significant experiments and reach solutions that strike a balance among legitimate contending interests.

Technical Description of the Object

Howard Besser has identified five key technical problems necessary for digital preservation (Besser 2000).

  1. The viewing problem is the maintenance of an infrastructure and the technical expertise necessary to make digital documents readable.
  2. The scrambling problemis decoding any compression or technical protection service software protecting the Web page.
  3. The interrelation problemis preserving the contexts that give information meaning, such as links to other Web pages.
  4. The custodial problem is defining the standards, best practices, and collection policies that define the boundary of the work and its provenance and authenticity.
  5. The translation problemconcerns the way in which the experience and meaning of the Web page are changed by migrating it into new delivery devices.

When one is building a Web archive these problems translate into three questions: What should be collected? How do we preserve its authenticity? How do we preserve or build the technology needed to access and preserve it?

What is the Digital Object to be Collected?

Ultimately, the scope and scale of a Web archive will be determined by the definition of the digital object to be collected-the “Web page.” This is not a simple matter. From a user’s point of view, a Web page is the image called forth by placing a URL address into a Web reader. This operational definition is necessary but not sufficient, for an archive also must be sure that the document is translated in an authentic manner. In this case, authenticity means that the document must both include the context and evoke the experience of the original.

The average Web page contains 15 links to other pages or objects and five sourced objects, such as sounds or images. For this reason, the boundaries of the digital object are ambiguous. If a Web page is the answer to a user’s query, a set of linked Web pages sufficient to provide an answer must be preserved. From this perspective, the Web is like a reference library; that is, it is the totality of the reference materials in which a user might search for an answer. If so, the object to be preserved might include everything on the Web on a given subject at a given point in time, for example, the 2000 election or the World Trade Center terrorist attack. Thus, there is a temporal dimension: Must we preserve the context of the Web page at every point in time, at the time it was created, or when it was at its best? This raises the issue of quality: are we to preserve all pages relevant to a query, or just the best ones? And who is to judge?

None of these possibilities would be easy to realize, for the Web is not a fixed collection of artifacts. Today, the “surface” Web contains all of the static hypertext markup language (HTML) pages that can be accessed by URLs. Some of the surface Web, especially in the commercial sector, requires passwords or encryption keys; this area might be called the “private” Web. To archive these Web pages would require permission of the owners. The private Web is often encased in security protection services that make copying and preservation doubly difficult. Beyond these problems, surface Web pages are often generated on the fly, customized on demand from databases in the “deep” or “dark” Web. The deep Web is estimated to be 500 times larger than the surface Web. It includes huge data sources (such as the National Climatic Data Center and National Aeronautics and Space Administration databases) and software code that provides information services for surface Web pages on the fly (such as the software that creates customized pages for each customer). The deep Web is the information architecture that produces what we read on the surface; the surface itself exists only as long as a reader is using it. This deep Web cannot easily be archived, since the data are guarded by technical protection services. It is also potentially protected by privacy concerns, since if owns a profile of my use of information, it is not necessarily available for archiving without my consent. Here there are not only tensions between markets and archives but also conflicts between privacy concerns and the interest of history.

The ambiguous boundaries of Web objects are also problematic because they are compounds of design elements, including texts, pictures, graphics, digital sound, movies, and code-the list expands as innovation continues. Each of these elements has intellectual property rights attached to it, although they are rarely marked and sometimes impossible to trace. Yet, at least in principle, a digital archive would have to have permission from each of these rights holders. In the words of the National Research Council’s report, The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age, “for the digital world, one must sort out and clear rights, even of ephemera” (National Research Council 2000, 12).

Even if the Web page could be copied technically and we knew what we wanted to preserve, Web pages are protected by copyright law. Even now there are sophisticated debates about how a Web archive should collect data: Should the default be that copyrighted information is collected and the owner has to opt out; or should it not be collected or disclosed unless the owner actively gives permission (“opts in”)? This is a question that may be resolved by legislation or the courts. It is important to remember that the Web is a global document; consequently, there are likely to be many jurisdictions making laws and rules, and enforcement across national borders will be difficult without treaty agreements.

The Authenticity and Provenance of the Object Collected

Defining the boundaries of the object to be collected also requires decisions about authenticity and provenance. These decisions must be recorded as part of the archive; the preservation community calls this kind of information “metadata,” or information about information, and often builds records of what is in the collection using these metadata. A standard way of recording the metadata must be created to record the historical and technical context in which the document(s) were found. Among many other facts, metadata might record answers to the following questions (Besser 2000):

  • What is the name of the work? When was it created, and when has it been changed? Who created, changed, or reformatted it?
  • Are there unique identifiers and links to organizations or files or databases that have more extensive descriptive metadata about this record?
  • What technical environment is needed to view the work, including applications and version numbers, decompression schemes, and other files? If the Web page is generated on the fly, what database generated it, and what is known about its provenance?
  • What technical protection devices and services surround it, if any?
  • If the Web page contains more than text, what applications generated the sound, video, or graphics?
  • What copyright information is there about each of the elements of the Web page, and what is the contact information for them?

Work to define standard answers to these and other questions is ongoing through the Dublin Core metadata project.

What Technologies Are Needed to Preserve the Web Collection?

Technologies to reproduce the Web object-however defined-must be preserved, including the hardware and software necessary to access the information in an authentic context or to recreate it. This is difficult in the best of cases. Have we authentically preserved a computer game if we preserve only the graphics, or must we preserve the look and feel of the game in use? Every solution changes the context of information in ways that affect its authenticity. One strategy tries to preserve the original equipment; another uses contemporary technology to emulate the original “look and feel” of the information in use; still another migrates the digital signal to new storage media.2

Migration is not just a technical problem. Storage media for digital documents are not yet stable for long-term preservation. Magnetic storage media such as tape and discs eventually deteriorate. Moreover, hardware and software eventually become obsolete, hence very expensive to preserve and operate. A Web archive must migrate from one technical environment to another as generations of technology succeed one another. Nevertheless, under today’s law such migration could be a violation of copyright law because it involves copying the signal from one medium to another.

These problems are typical of those that occur in the early stages of every innovation, when getting to market quickly is more important than is perfecting the product. Digital information products are not designed for longevity, and even if they were, it is likely they would become obsolete quickly. As a consequence, the technologies of digital preservation are complex and expensive. The problems are understood far better than are the solutions at this point, but it is already clear that a Web archive will require substantial investment in technological infrastructure and technical research and development, and that commercial entities are unlikely to lead this effort unless there is short term economic value in doing so.

Organizational Issues

Both archives and libraries collect, organize, preserve, and provide access to the documentary record. The distinguishing function of archives is to preserve the integrity of documents for the long run.3 Preservation for centuries invariably requires new technologies; hence, the Council on Library and Information Resources and other organizations are investigating long-term storage and migration of data.4 While the technical problem of preservation is difficult, it is well understood. The problem of access, by contrast, involves legal and economic issues that have not yet been adequately explored. While print archives provide a useful model, the economic and legal environments surrounding print are quite different from those surrounding digital documents (National Research Council 2000, 113­116).

Economic and legal issues cannot be separated. In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) gave copyright owners rights to protect their works in digital formats. The DMCA implements the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Among the purposes of these treaties was harmonizing copyright policy around the world to encourage global commerce in digital information.

As a public policy, the DMCA was focused upon making the Internet safe for intellectual property. If digital information is easily moved from place to place on a network, such movement is considered to be copying and is protected by copyright. If Internet information is easily accessed, making it difficult for a rights holder to control distribution, the DMCA encourages the development of technical protection services (such as encryption) by making it illegal to develop technologies to break them.

For printed information, copyright policy has balanced information markets with public goods, such as education, the First Amendment, and libraries to provide access to information.

  • The first-sale doctrine allows libraries to circulate copyrighted works to library patrons. In the digital realm, however, information may be licensed by contract rather than sold under copyright. With licenses, the provisions of the contract determine the uses that are allowed, which are unlikely to include library circulation or fair use. While printed works may also be sold with “shrink-wrap” licenses, the print market has not accepted them as readily as have markets for digital information.
  • The fair-use doctrine allows for copying for personal educational purposes, within limits that are designed to protect information markets from damage. Here again, if licenses govern commerce in digital information, these copyright provisions do not govern the contractual agreement reached between buyer and seller.

The Digital Dilemma makes a constructive case for extending the fair-use doctrine to digital information in the future (National Research Council 2000, 137­139).

The rationale for the market approach, embodied in the DMCA, was twofold. First, new information markets are expensive to develop, and from the industry perspective, public interest doctrines such as first sale and fair use are taxes on this investment. Second, the global scale of the Internet means that millions of copies can be made and distributed in seconds, causing economic damage that cannot be repaired. Thus, while copyright laws governing print place emphasis upon ex post facto remedies such as litigation, the DMCA emphasizes prevention. Every digital copy, perhaps even copies made temporarily for system management purposes, thus requires the permission of the copyright holder. The DMCA explicitly allows archives to make digital copies of print works for the purpose of preservation.

To prevent illegal copying, the DMCA encourages the use of technical protection services such as encryption by making it illegal to use software to break them, and also making it illegal to develop and distribute such software. Software developers feel that this provision raises free-speech issues and perhaps property issues if it makes it illegal for the owner of a legal copy to make a backup. Congress recognized the complexity of some of these issues, empowering the LC to advise Congress whether this provision in Section 104 prevents noninfringing uses of certain classes of copyrighted works.5

What is the impact of these new legal regimes upon archives? Print archives are permitted to collect copyrighted materials and copy them for preservation purposes. For example, it is legal to copy print materials from one medium to another as part of a migration strategy over time, but it may not be legal to do so with digital collections, or to reformat them (e.g., from CD-ROM to a hard disk).

Differences between the production and distribution of printed and digital works raise additional legal issues for Web archives. When something is published in the print world, it is registered for copyright; thereafter, the laws governing it are largely unambiguous. On the Internet, it is not always clear when something has been “published.” At this point, it is not clear to most users whether placing information on the Web places it in the public domain or under copyright protection. The Digital Dilemma concludes that the Web is copyrighted in principle, but notes public confusion on the issue and explores ambiguities that make it unclear whether archives have the right to make preservation copies and preserve them using migration strategies.6

In the print world, it has been possible to develop a copyright regime that balances the needs of markets and those of archives. The Internet makes it difficult simply to transfer copyright doctrine from the print to the digital environment. Yet many of the problems for the Web archive outlined earlier seem to be unanticipated consequences of laws intended to support the digital marketplace and might, in principle, be resolved by negotiation. This process might begin by discussing the possible damage to the marketplace caused by long-term archives and seeking solutions.

Implications for Long-term Preservation

The most urgent task at this point is to create an organization capable of managing the process of building a Web archive, including negotiating to solve these problems. Inevitably, a Web archive will be a new kind of organization, one that responds to the problems and interests surrounding the Web. It may not be a place at all-it may be a function distributed among institutions over many locations on a global network.

The starting point for building a Web archive is to envision organizational strategies to manage this process. Two organizational strategies are emerging-one from the archival and library professions and the other from computer scientists. These strategies are not opposites and are not mutually exclusive, but contrasting them helps frame the strategic choices.

One library and archival strategy for organizing digital archives is presented in Preserving Digital Information, a report of the Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information (1996), published by the Commission on Preservation and Access and the Research Libraries Group. In contrast, Brewster Kahle’s for-profit Alexa Internet and nonprofit Internet Archive might be used to illustrate the computer scientists’ vision for organizing the Web archive.

Two Technical Strategies

Which profession should develop digital archives-librarians or computer scientists? In other words, who owns this problem?

  • One technical strategy is offered by the library community, which has developed sophisticated cataloging strategies. The MARC record is used to build print library catalogs that may be searched by users to identify the best information resources. MARC records include fields to describe every aspect of printed documents; the Dublin Core metadata project is defining a standard for cataloging digital documents.
  • Computer scientists funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Digital Library program are developing a second model. While the Dublin Core is designed to enable searches of library catalogs of digital collections, the NSF digital library projects are developing search engines that directly parse the digital documents themselves.

Records identify the best information source described in a catalog, while search engines and data-mining technologies go to the source itself. Each has its advantages. The point is that these technologies are optimized for two different kinds of archive. The computer science paradigm allows for archiving the entire Web as it changes over time, then uses search engines to retrieve the necessary information. An archival catalog supports high-quality collections built around select themes, saving only the Web sites judged to have potential historical significance or special value, and describing these special qualities in collection records and catalogs that could be searched.7

This is a fundamental debate about the nature of the Web as a technical object as well. The librarian tends to look at the content of the Web page as the object to be described and preserved. The computer scientist tends to look at the Web as a technology for linking information-a system of relationships (hence the name “Web”). This implies not only a difference in scale: it is a difference in philosophy. Should Web archives include everything or only carefully selected samples? Should the end user make decisions about the quality of the Web page, or should they be made by a selector who chooses which Web pages to save?

Preservation Powers

Copyright requires that copies of a published work be deposited in the LC, and the National Archives has the legal responsibility for archiving federal documents. In each case, responsibility is clearly located in a funded institution. How do the librarian/archivist and computer science models solve this organizational problem?

Preserving Digital Information (1996) proposes that the digital archive begin with principles such as the following:

  • The copyright holder has initial responsibility for archiving digital information objects to ensure their long-term preservation.
  • This responsibility can be subcontracted or otherwise voluntarily transferred to others, such as certified digital archives.
  • If important digital objects are endangered because the owner does not accept responsibility for preservation, “certified digital archives have the right and duty to exercise an aggressive rescue function as a fail-safe mechanism” (Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information 1996, 20). Clearly, this “rescue function” would require a revision of the Copyright Act to create such a right and duty. Alternatively, the task force suggests the creation of a system of legal deposit, on the model put forth by a European Union proposal, to require publishers to place a copy of their published digital works in a certified digital archive. The word “certified” is important, for it refers to a professional and legal code of conduct so that access to the archive would not be misused.

The strengths of this proposal are that it creates clear institutional responsibility for the Web archive (“certified”) and describes necessary legislation to extend proven print models (such as deposit) to the digital realm. However, the proposal has not gathered political support, and the model relies upon already-scarce library subsidies for economic support.

Alternatively, consider the model of Alexa Internet and the Internet Archive. Alexa Internet is a for-profit corporation that measures the quality of Web pages by tracing consumers’ use of the Web. These measurements are made using an enormous Web archive, built by Alexa Internet using Web “spiders” (robots or agents) that roam the Web copying everything they find, unless forbidden entry. In this model, commercial use provides a viable economic base for the creation of the Web archive; note that Yahoo!, Google, and other search engine companies have also built large Web archives for commercial purposes. Alexa Internet then turns over the Web archive to the nonprofit Internet Archive, which provides for long-term preservation of the digital archive.

This linkage between corporate archives and nonprofit philanthropic archives is not unprecedented: many print archives have been built through philanthropic gifts from corporations or their owners after the economic value of the collection has faded. It relies upon the philanthropic vision of individuals, which may seem unreliable but may be more realistic than the legal establishment of a last-resort rescue power. However, it is problematic in that its funding depends upon the sustainability of a business model. Moreover, it is not clear that it is legal for a Web crawler to copy the Web without permission; Alexa Internet proactively copies, but removes Web pages from the archive upon request of the creator or copyright holder (an opt-out strategy).

The models developed by librarians and computer scientists are not opposites; in fact, they overlap in significant ways. Each relies upon a partnership between the for-profit and nonprofit realms, for in practice the digital archive is much more likely to rely upon the voluntary transfer of preservation responsibility from the copyright holder to certified archives than a controversial rescue power. Alexa Internet is an example of a philanthropic transfer from a commercial entity to an archive. Each model ultimately relies upon the resolution of legal ambiguities concerning the right to copy the Web. To some extent, each uses an element of eminent domain over copyright, the digital archive in its rescue power and Alexa Internet in its opt-out philosophy.

Access and Market Failure

Preservation does not threaten markets, but access might. How can the Web archive protect markets from the potential damage of competition from illegal copies preserved by the nonprofit sector? Four current practices might help to provide a solution to this problem.

  1. Delay. The archive can delay making the archive available to the public until the economic value of the copy has been extracted. For example, Alexa Internet holds the tapes of the Web archive for six months before releasing them to Internet Archive. The length of the delay is an important subject for negotiation, since different kinds of content have different economic value cycles.
  2. Opt out. The copyright holder can opt out of the archive. First, the Web crawler or robot making the copy can be automatically excluded from the Web site. Second, even if the crawler copied the item, the owner could ask that it be removed. This would allow the default to be that the Web is preserved, accomplishing the goal of thePreserving Digital Information task force, yet provide space for the owner and the archive to negotiate an agreement about the terms of access, if any.
  3. Restricted access. The archive can restrict access to the collection to those judged by the copyright holder to pose no threat, a category that might include scholars.
  4. Motive. On the model of the Fair-Use doctrine, the archive user could be required to have an educational motive and sign an agreement that the use of the archive would be restricted to certain purposes.

These ideas are not comprehensive; they are described only to suggest that current practices offer fertile ground for discussion.

Unresolved Issues

Every law ultimately relies upon the perception of citizens that it is fair. Within this general cultural approval of the legitimacy, a political consensus must be built among those with significant stakes in the issues. Often this kind of consensus begins with an agreement about a fair procedure for resolving differences; an example is the Conference on Fair Use (CONFU) process, which attempted to build a consensus that defined the Fair-Use policy.

The building of a public consensus will depend in this case on developing a shared understanding of digital information. Web pages clearly have intellectual and economic value, but thus far the new kinds of value created by Web pages, and digital information generally, have not been well described. The questions to be resolved include the following:

  • How do the creators of intellectual property use information? Specifically, what is the role of Fair Use in creating new information? Is copyright law the best way to govern the role of digital information in the creative process, or is the public interest best served by an emphasis upon innovation, that is, the output of the creative process?
  • What value comes from distributors or publishers in a networked environment? This is clear in print, but digital commerce is still in a highly experimental state of development, making the market value of digital commodities difficult for consumers to understand.
  • Consumers give value to any commodity, in a sense, by sustaining markets that ultimately justify investment in innovations, but this relationship is unexpectedly novel in the case of Web pages. For example, Web pages collect information on users and often place cookies on readers’ Web browsers. This information has commercial value, both enabling more customized services to be provided to the consumer, and, it is hoped, building brand loyalty and justifying advertising rates on Web pages. In this sense, we might now try to understand the consumer’s role in the value chain and to define how the consumer adds value to information.

Old intellectual and organizational paradigms are not easily adapted to new digital markets because they do not describe them well; thus, they constrain innovation in markets that are still evolving. Ultimately, legal and policy frameworks for the digital economy must be consistent with the citizen-consumer’s own experiences if they are to be perceived as legitimate.

If the social and political framework for the Web archive is still evolving, so, too, are other key elements. These include the following:

Evolving technology. The Web has grown to global scale very rapidly; it may represent the fastest diffusion of a new technology in human history. At the same time, the technology of the Web has not stopped evolving. Even now, significant evolution is occurring as, for example, new architectures replace static Web pages with customized Web pages generated on the fly. Because innovation is not linear, the development of the Web is unpredictable. For stakeholders, the best option is to participate in the new organizations that, if they do not govern the future of the Web, at least attempt to analyze and influence its direction. To participate in discussions about the technical future of the Web, it is worthwhile to follow the discussion of the World Wide Web Consortium.

Evolving law. Copyright law protects the entire Web. However, the Web is global, and a practice that is legal in one jurisdiction may violate the law in another. For this reason, Web law needs to become harmonized, which suggests that international treaty making (e.g., the WIPO treaty) may be as important as is national legislation.

Evolving economic issues. The Web began as software for the exchange of documents among scientists and researchers, using an Internet that was subsidized for education and research purposes. Today the Internet is increasingly commercial, and the Web has been the subject of vigorous investment as a technology for the digital economy. The search for sustainable business models for Web business has undergone a rapid evolution, ranging from Web advertising models to banner ads, sponsorship ads, subscription models, and business to consumer (B2C) enterprises. Investment in these enterprises and technologies has slowed for the moment because there is little sense that viable economic models have been identified.

Public policy. In recent years, responsibility for information policy leadership at the federal level in the United States has been moved from the Department of Education to the Department of Commerce, because the Internet is seen as a medium for commerce and international economic competition. At the same time, the public sector policy governing the Web has been focused on e-government, requiring government agencies to develop Web resources and to move from print to Web publishing. Thus, at one pole the market was treated as the best way to deliver content onto the Web, while at the other pole, the public good was defined solely in terms of online government information. There is a space between these two poles, where a broader concept of the public interest could be developed. This is a space that might be called “innovation policy,” and that is the ground upon which a Web archive policy, among other innovations, might be created.


Besser, Howard. 2000. DigitalLongevity. In Handbook for Digital Projects: A Management Tool for Preservation and Access, edited by Maxine Sitts. Andover, Mass.: Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Conway, Paul. 1996. Preservation in the Digital World. Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access.

Lyman, Peter, and Hal Varian. 2000. How Much Information? Available at:

Lyman, Peter, and Howard Besser. 1998. Defining the Problem of Our Vanishing Memory: Background, Current Status, Models for Resolution. In Time and Bits: Managing Digital Continuity, edited by Margaret MacLean and Ben H. Davis. Los Angeles: Getty Information Institute and Getty Conservation Institute.

National Research Council. 2000. The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Rothenberg, Jeff. 1999. Avoiding Technological Quicksand: Finding a Viable Technical Foundation for Digital Preservation, Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources. Available at:

Sanders, Terry. 1997. Into the Future: Preservation of Information in the Electronic Age. Film. 16 mm, 60 min. Santa Monica, Calif.: American Film Foundation.

Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information. 1996. Preserving Digital Information. Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access and Research Libraries Group. Available at:

Web sites noted

Alexa Internet.

Dublin Core.

The Internet Archive.

World Wide Web Consortium.


1 Numerical descriptions of the Web are based on data available in fall 2000. These data sources were originally published on the Web, but are no longer available, illustrating the problem of Web archiving. However, the original sources are reproduced in detail in Lyman and Varian 2000, and are available at /rawdata.xls. Some of the source documents are available on the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine” at

2 A comprehensive description of the technical issues in digital preservation is provided in Rothenberg 1999. Migration is discussed on page 13, and emulation on pages 17­30.

3 For functional descriptions of the terms “digital library” and “digital archive,” see Task Force on Archiving of Digital Information 1996, page 7.

4 The Council on Library and Information Resources has published numerous papers on digital preservation. See

5 In August 2001, the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress released the DMCA Section 104 Report, available at

6 See the more detailed discussion in National Research Council 2000, 113­119.

7 On the issue of the quality of information, see, for example, Conway 1996.

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