Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 8th Oct 2010 13:53 UTC
Legal You think only "pirates" and "freeloaders" rail against current copyright laws? Well, think again - even the Library of Congress seemingly has had enough. The topic is recorded sound preservation, and in a 181-page in-depth study, the Library of Congress concludes that apart from technical difficulties, US copyright law makes it virtually impossible for anyone to perform any form of audio preservation. The painted picture is grim - very grim.
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Which is exactly why you can't archive digital media in the same way you'd archive a stone block. It isn't enough just to make sure it's in a super-clean atmosphere behind 2 inches of hardened glass. In fact, that might be of no use whatsoever. We can't just go around keeping "physical" copies of every document or printable piece of interesting information either. Given the current information explosion, our libraries would drown in the flood of paper (or other physical medium). The reason we could do it until now, is that paper was very expensive in the past and producing books was a costly and time-consuming task, not to mention that even these physical documents often need periodic restoration which cannot be done using automated procedures as in the case of digital archives. Archiving digital media only requires periodically updating the archive format, technology and procedures used, to make sure you are up to date in respect to current technology in terms of being able to access it.

I'd agree that using FOSS formats provides the safest outlook into the future for the software side and so all that needs attention every now and then is the hardware side. There's ways around hardware failure (e.g. periodic disk scrubbing) and accidental or intentional data modification (cryptographically secure hashes).

And to refute your assertion that historically world powers have been unable to alter "history" - just think about book burning, genocide or forced coercion. There's tons of ways to alter history which don't necessarily entail "rewriting" historical documents - just remember how the Taliban just recently blew up a historical buddhist temple in Pakistan.

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