British Library unveils UK Web Archive

The British Library has launched its UK Web Archive to capture and record thousands of UK web sites, but has warned that the future of the project is at risk owing to copyright legislation. The project has been in development since 2004, and contains sites that would otherwise be lostd. British Library chief executive Dame Lynne Brindley said that the project had already captured and preserved 6,000 sites in an effort to avoid a “digital black hole” in UK web history. However, the project is facing difficulties as material that is freely available on the web is still subject to copyright and cannot be archived without permission from each site’s owner. Dame Brindley warned that the British Library will be able to collect only one per cent of the 8.8 million domain address that will exist by 2011 unless the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) steps in. “We hope that the DCMS consultation will enact the 2003 Legal Deposit Libraries Act and extend the provision of legal deposit through regulation to cover freely available UK web sites, providing regular snapshots of the free UK web domain,” she said. The issue is compounded by new research estimating that the average life expectancy of a web site is just 44 to 75 days, and that 10 per cent of all UK web sites are lost or replaced by new material every six months.


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