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Law Prevents British Websites From Being Archived 107

Posted by timothy
from the there-would-be-these-things-called-hard-drives dept.
Lanxon writes "The law that allows the US Internet Archive to collect and preserve websites does not apply to British archivists. In fact, experts from the Archive and many other archivist institutions argue that the only way the millions of Britain's websites could be legally archived is if British law itself was amended, reports Wired in an investigation published today. Currently, archivists have to seek permission from webmasters of every single site before they are able to take snapshots and retain data."
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Law Prevents British Websites From Being Archived

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  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday March 05, 2010 @08:43PM (#31377420) Homepage
    good luck enforcing who can have that content!

    There's a considerable difference between allowing people to download and view content and allowing them to put it up in a publicly available archive. As British law reads (No, IANAL, but unlike most Slashdotters, I RTFA before posting.) you have to get permission for each and every site you archive this way, making any British archive strictly opt in. It would quite literally take an act of Parliament to change this.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Friday March 05, 2010 @08:52PM (#31377468) Homepage Journal

    A stance more like the BSD licence (do what you want with it as long as you give credit) than the GPL licence (lots of restrictions on redistribution).

    There is NOT a lot of restrictions with the GPL license; in fact it is quite simple. If you want to distribute a program using GPL code or derived GPL code, you release the component (or derivative) as GPL, including source. That is not a lot of restrictions. All it does is ensure that people share and share alike, something most people learn by kindergarten but quickly forget.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:11PM (#31377564)

    It's also illegal to rip a CD you own and put it on your MP3 player.

    British copyright law is very much like American, only with no concept of fair use.

  • Re:Google FTW (Score:3, Informative)

    by Homburg (213427) on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:24PM (#31377618) Homepage

    No, it's the regular copyright law that legitimizes the dumbassery. The Legal Deposit Libraries Act provides a partial relief from this, in that it exempts deposit libraries from aspects of copyright law in copying online material if they are doing so for the purposes of archiving materials covered by the act. The problem is that, at the moment, websites are not specifically covered by the act, which gives the government the power to set up regulations covering non-print media, without specifying any particular non-print media.

    This is why the summary is wrong to claim that the law would have to be changed to permit archiving of websites; as TFA says, all it would take is the government issuing relevant regulations under the act, which the consultation document (linked from the article) suggests they have a fairly clear plan to do.

  • by Homburg (213427) on Friday March 05, 2010 @09:32PM (#31377700) Homepage

    It would quite literally take an act of Parliament to change this.

    As TFA says, it wouldn't take an act of Parliament - the 2003 Legal Deposit Libraries act gives the government the power to issue regulations concerning the archiving of non-print media.

  • Robots.txt (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2010 @10:01PM (#31377872)

    Why not update robots.txt to flag that permission is granted to archive the site?

  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@@@kc...rr...com> on Friday March 05, 2010 @10:18PM (#31377958) Homepage

    Does anyone else worry that in the current age with technology constantly butting heads with rights holders that in the future historians will likely find large gaps of history simply missing? I have a feeling things will end up very similar to the hollywood and the bbc in the 60's and 70's when vast amounts of movies and television episodes were destroyed or wiped simply to clear space in the vaults. Take Dr Who for instance, most of the William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton seasons are gone forever. In the states nearly all of the Jack Parr episodes of the Tonight Show are gone as well.

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