Volume 4 Issue 1
Spring 2008
ISSN 1937-7266

A Publisher of Last Resort: Enduring Document Access

George Buchanan

University of Wales Swansea

Ensuring long-term access to valuable online content is an important task that is complexified by legal constraints and practical difficulties. We have been developing a technique for ensuring the long-term availability of digital content across the internet. The technique combines legal and technical measures to guarantee that a document remains available when its original form goes offline, either permanently or long-term: a “publisher of last resort”.

Publishers of online documents can register with the “last resort service”, giving explicit permission for the service to make it available electronically should the original become unavailable. The depositor can register a number of alternate locations or identifiers through which the original can be found. These are subsequently monitored, and when none resolve for a chosen period, the deposited copy is placed online. If an original is restored, the copy is again withdrawn.

This service was created in response to the online community of computer pioneers, many of whom publish their recollections on personal websites. Duplication can lead to questions of authority, and interfere with current dialogue. However, we wish to ensure that the material remains online if and when the personal websites on which they are recorded go offline.

The service is intended to be made public for open deposit in 2009. For more information at present visit http://www.cs.swan.ac.uk/~csgeorge/lastresort

For a larger view of Figure 1 click here