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2006-11-26 Transforming Internet In An Useless Medium

Society of "Authors"/Editors Against Digital Archiving ?

Thinking back of the non-sense copiepresse action and the belgian court ruling in their favor, I'm still wondering what such kind of editors society really want. We can read everywhere that copiepresse wants to have a part of the money revenue from Google. That seems to be one of the possible reason behind the legal action but in my humble opinion, it's not the main driving reason. Looking on the copiepresse website, there are plenty of leaflet where stated you can't make a copy before asking for an authorization at us and more and more works (read controlled by us ;-) are in an electronic format. When reading the leaflet, I think that the underlying idea is to translate the old approach of physical object and adding more restriction (maybe it's my naive perception). More restriction ? is it possible ? yes. In the current situation, the physical archiving of press is done by publicly funded libraries or archiving institution. There are exception in the copyright/author's right law to allow them to preserve the press article1. The access to the preserved article is allowed to the public even without a fee. But in the digital world, who is taking care of the archiving ? is doing a part of the job but lacking a lot of funding (and help) to extend the scale. Google is doing it as a service for the Internet user and adds a little bit of advertising. Some other initiatives are growing in the area of digital archiving but I agree with Jean-Etienne about the difficulty of digital archiving. Beside the technical difficulties, there are numerous legal difficulties including the latest action from copiepresse. The editors societies don't want to share and want to gain the new archiving market. They see the opportunity of changing the current physical archiving system by removing it for the electronic world. That why I think their real target is not the money of Google but they just want to kill the ability to do digital archiving.

The ability to do digital archiving is really critical to preserve on the long-term the information. More and more information is only available in digital format (quite often in proprietary format, with a lot of restriction, or in a limited quality)… Digital archiving can only work in a collaborative way. Not a single provider can't scale to archive all the information generated today. The only way is to free the archiving of digital information and to clearly extend the archiving exception in the law not to only institution but to any foundation, citizen or association willing to help to archive the digital society.

By the way, here is a small archive of without crawling the website and only using the RDF file provided by the website (the python script to do so, feel free to use it to archive your favorite website).



1. I took the press as an example as copiepresse is representing some mainstream press in Belgium