Temporary archiving

Perma.cc is (another) way of archiving web pages. This time in an “authoritative”-sounding manner. From the front page:

Perma.cc helps scholars, journals and courts create permanent links to the online sources cited in their work.

Perma.cc is powered by libraries because we’re in the forever business. We’re already looking after printed materials. It’s time we did the same for links.

Links become permanent when they are “vested” by someone affiliated with a vesting organization, such as a journal or court.

Which all sounds good. The more archiving the better if you ask me, given how ephemeral everything is around here.

However, if we leave the big text of the home page and visit the small print of the Terms of service we find these clauses:

9. Termination of Service

We reserve the right at any time to modify, suspend or discontinue the Site or Service, in whole or in part, without notice, and shall have no liability for doing so.

10. Disclaimer of Warranties; Limitations of Liability and Remedies

(a) WHILE WE ASPIRE TO PRESERVE LINKS AND ARCHIVAL COPIES OF CONTENT STORED AT THE DIRECTION OF USERS, WE MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS, WARRANTIES, OR UNDERTAKINGS AS TO PERMANENCE OR THE DURATION OF PRESERVATION. AS INDICATED ELSEWHERE IN THESE TERMS OF USE, WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO DELETE OR DISABLE ACCESS TO USER SUBMITTED CONTENT, AND TO TERMINATE ALL OR PART OF THE SERVICE AT ANY TIME. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT STORED LINKS MAY FAIL TO WORK.

Brilliant. An archiving service that explicitly states: it might not keep things forever; it might delete some things; or, even, it might close without notice.

This seems to contradict the front page blurb selling the ability to “create permanent links” and boasting “we’re in the forever business”.

I assume those running the service have the very best of intentions and fully intend (or, at least, hope) to be as permanent and “forever” as humanly possible. But if so, why the ugly bundle of caveats hidden behind-the-scenes? They effectively turn the front page puffery into outright lies.

It’s easy to say you’ll archive copies of anything, forever. It’s much harder, and more interesting, to set up the technical, organisational, financial and legal structures to actually do it. Which, as far as we can tell, are the important things that seem to be missing here.

1 Feb 2015 at Twitter

  • 03:19pm: When a permanent archiving service isn’t a permanent archiving service: http://t.co/Tu29XWlqpd
  • 03:58pm: @paulpod Yeah, printing a website out into a book that the British Library has to archive seems like a good bet.
  • 05:22pm: @tomtaylor Yeah, nice. I think that was mentioned in a New Yorker article, now on my Pinboard.

1 Feb 2015 in Links

Music listened to most that week

  1. Marine Girls (38)
  2. Red House Painters (19)
  3. Robyn (15)
  4. SBTRKT (15)
  5. Aphex Twin (12)
  6. John Martyn (10)
  7. Everything But the Girl (8)
  8. Sun Kil Moon (5)
  9. The Smiths (5)
  10. Vic Godard (5)

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