The Internet Archive, which is aggressively archiving digital materials in the manner which libraries archived pre-digital materials has released their report, “Securing Digital Rights for Libraries: Towards an Affirmative Policy Agenda for a Better Internet.”

The report is the culmination of months of consulting with leading experts from libraries, civil society, and academia regarding libraries’ role in shaping the next iteration of the Internet.

I share word of the report as the issues addressed seem similar to the archiving, or lack of archiving, issues of legal blogs.

Lawyers (practicing/academic), law firms, law librarians, law students and other legal professionals publish blogs. In many cases these blogs give rise to secondary law. But without a library – an archive – this digital law escapes with no record when blogs are deleted or the url structure is changed.

When publishers of books no longer have copies of books available, libraries have the books available. As we went digital, things changed. No books in many cases and no archival of digital work, until the Internet Archive came along.

The Internet Archive blogged that they focused on two core questions: How can libraries (1) sustain their traditional societal function and (2) build on their strengths to support a better information ecosystem in the 21st Century?

The key takeaway was simple: The rights that libraries have always enjoyed offline must also be protected online. The report articulated a set of four digital rights for libraries, based on the core library functions of preserving and providing access to information, knowledge, and culture. Specifically, if libraries are to continue ensuring meaningful participation in society for everyone in the digital era, they must have the rights to:

  • Collect digital materials, including those made available only via streaming and other restricted means, through purchase on the open market or any other legal means, no matter the underlying file format;
  • Preserve those materials, and where necessary repair or reformat them, to ensure their long-term existence and availability;
  • Lend digital materials, at least in the same “one person at a time” manner as is traditional with physical materials;
  • Cooperate with other libraries, by sharing or transferring digital collections, so as to provide more equitable access for communities in remote and less well-funded areas.

Makes me think in the case of legal blogs a library/archive takes a similar approach.

  • Collect all credible legal blogs;
  • Preserve the legal blogs, and as needed, reformat them to ensure long-term existence and availability;
  • Lend the legal blogs out – who wouldn’t want that as a blogger;
  • Cooperate with other libraries or other legal research platforms so as to make legal blogs widely available in a searchable and structured manner.

Working with the Open Legal Blog Archive, backed by LexBlog has already given rise to many of these issues and principals.