Web Archive Legal Deposit: A Double-Edged Sword

Ian Milligan

I couldn't take pictures of the web archive, but here's the lineup to enter the archive at 9:30am! I couldn’t take pictures of the web archive, but here’s the lineup to enter the archive at 9:30am!

I’ve heard so much about legal deposit in the context of web archiving, and have been enthralled with what it represents: a recognition that born-digital sources are today’s documentary record, the need to preserve it more, and the institutional and legal commitment to make sure that happens. If we’d had non-print legal deposit in 2008, historians might today be studying AOL Hometown, one of the early mass deletions on the Web.

But I knew that legal deposit came with some restrictions. In return for the legal authority for collecting libraries to collect all of this information, they were bound by many of the restrictions placed on print books: on-site consultation only, limitations on reproduction, and a maximum of one person at a time viewing a website.

I wondered how this would…

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