review/summary : Web archiving: ethical and legal issues affecting programmes in Australia and the Netherlands

In the article, featured in the August 2010 Australian Library Journal, Lachlan Glanville discusses the challenges two National Libraries– The National Library of Australia and Koninklijke Bibliotheek in the Netherlands– face in the development and continued operation of their web archiving programs.The article is a great example of how libraries around the world are choosing to move and change with technology and preservation. Glanville demonstrates how the rapid changing needs of archiving and technology have surpassed the legal constraints of harvesting culturally relevant material.He compares and concludes the barriers facing the digital preservation field in their harvesting of digitally born materials. Detailing the two types of harvesting utilized by the libraries–selective and whole domain harvesting– both having their pros and cons.

The author lays out six major challenges; 1) a uniform uncertainly in selection criteria, 2) incentive misalignment between benefactors of the data and those in the position to preserve it, 3) unclear guidance at to who is responsible for preserving, 4) lack of collaboration, 5) financial issues, and 6) how to ascertain value of the benefit of digital preservation.

The largest challenges these intuitions faced came from the legal realm. Like the United States, copyright law world wide is a barrier to the archival world. There are ethical and legal concerns when harvesting web created material. Permissions must be acquired, it becomes time consuming, costly and therefore much important data is not being archived.

The example given in the essay is that of The National Library of Aistrailia’s digital archive program, PANDORA. PANDORA has chosen a “selective harvesting method” along with collaborating with,  San Francisco’s own- Internet archive, who perform a yearly “whole” harvest of the entire .au domain.
The Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), in the Netherlands. KB utilizes an “opt-out” harvesting technique as workaround copyright infringement policy, the same as the Internet Archive. The method, as the author points out, could have issues legally and ethically. The Internet Archive has had a small amount of legal issues that have arisen with this archive model– all settled. It is proving to be viable and vital method of “whole” web harvesting while dealing with the issue of copyright.

In my opinion, this article demonstrates how–mainly– there needs to be a world wide legal reform of copyright.  Secondly, that the new archiving model will be a hybrid method of collection, that will take a world wide collective to harvest our cultural heritage.

GLANVILLE, L. (2010). Web archiving: ethical and legal issues affecting programmes in Australia and the Netherlands. Australian Library Journal, 59(3), 128-134. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

National Library of Australia
Digital Collections
Internet archive
National Library of Australia
Koninklijke Bibliotheek

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