Brewster Kahle Fights The Good Fight To Save Old Software

from the the-digital-pack-rat dept

Brewster Kahle keeps pushing forward with his wonderful Internet Archive project, but the plan has always been to do a lot more than preserve old websites. He wants to preserve everything digital that he possibly can – including software. There’s one problem with that, though: it breaks the law. Thanks to things like the DMCA it’s still illegal to offer copies of software that is completely obsolete and out of use. Kahle now says we’re running out of time to preserve some old programs as the media it’s stored on is rapidly degrading. Kahle is now hoping that the Copyright Office will make an exception to the DMCA that will allow the archiving of old software. The Copyright Office is considering the request (and others) and plans to make a ruling by the end of the month. If it goes against Kahle, he’s afraid that many of these old programs will be gone forever. Even if the Copyright Office agrees with Kahle, they’ll only be able to archive programs that don’t have copy protection. Everything else will require getting permission from the “rights holder” of the software – which may be impossible to find, since many companies that made the software are now long gone. If that’s the case, why don’t they just put up the old software? If the rights holder exists and is upset, suddenly, Kahle and the Internet Archive folks will certainly hear from them. Of course, the legal risks of that plan probably make it problematic.

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