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Monday, June 28th, 2010 08:38 am
A lot of time, we link to a website or an ongoing discussion rather than copying and pasting info over onto to Fanlore.  But once a website or a link is dead, that data is lost and your Fanlore entry may lack context or key info.

Your best shot is to head over to the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) and see if the website has been archived. But since the Wayback Machine crawls and archives randomly, you won't know if your citation can be resurrected until it is too late.

Enter: WebCite. A service designed for scholars to create a static snapshot of a website so that you can cite  it (and the page contents) for longer periods.  It is user driven - you have to submit the website link before the website goes down (when you're creating your Fanlore entry). It comes with a few caveats: it won't create a snapshot of pages that have the 'no robots' code. It won't grab locked content and if you're grabbing a page from an adult Livejournal community, all you may see is the 'Adults only' warning.  And it is intended to be used in addition to the direct link to the website, not in place.

I've tested WebCite on the Professionals Fandom Timeline which pulls the bulk of its content from a few key LJ threads. We have already laboriously copied the data over to Fanlore (with permission), but it seemed like a good test candidate.

I also used WebCite to create links to a Stargate Award website that is not currently in the WayBack Machine.

If you have used this service before, or know anything more about it, please drop a note. I think it will be particularly useful for blogs and forum  posts which are prone to vanish quickly. It comes with an easy to use Bookmarklet that will allow you to cite a webpage with one click.

edited: I had a brief discussion with someone about WebCite in which they expressed discomfort with the use of this tool (and about whether aspects of the Fanlore project in general could be seen as a breach of fannish community mores/trust).   So I'll toss out this narrower question: How does using Webcite differ from our using the WayBack Machine/Internet Archive or Google as our citation sources? Both Webcite and the Wayback Machine are using the same caching process and both store the website snapshot on their servers.  What I like about WebCite is that it is much more limited - it cites only the one page and does not scrape and archive the entire website (like the WayBack Machine). This offers us a better level of control over what we're citing to, makes certain we give proper credit to the source of info and grabs the smallest portion of material. In other words, it seems (to me) to be a better form of 'fair use'. 

Thoughts? Input? Other ways of looking at the 'what to link, what to quote, what to cite' question? Is any use of any tool that caches a website (ex. Google, WayBack Machine, LJ Seek etc) something to avoid? I realize there may not be a single or uniform opinion, but like Fanlore, I think that plural POVs are good.

edited  to add:   I have to keep in mind that Fandom - and Fanlore - is not operating in isolation. Scholars, other Wikis, libraries, and historians are running into the same questions and looking at and evaluating the same tools.  In fact Wired had a recent article about the US and UK digital archives and their reliance on the Oakland Archive Policy of 2001.   More here.

a recent Library Science article discussing yet another 'caching' service: Memento Web

: links to legal articles on digital preservation and caching  below.

Monday, June 28th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, I wonder if they have a policy on porn.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 01:48 am (UTC)
I'm personally okay with my fic being (theoretically) screencapped so scholars can site, but I suspect you'll meet a lot of resistance from fans who believe strongly in the no archiving fic without permission rule. For them, archiving without permission shows a lack of respect for the author, valuing record-keeping over people. I'm not saying this is necessarily true, but if this is something you're going to do, it'll probably require some reassurances.

Just my two cents :)

ETA: In response to your ETA, I think the biggest concern people will have is that they'll lose control of their fanworks. I realise you said you weren't planning to screencap fic or art just yet, which is probably for the best. And in terms of fair use, can you screencap an entire fic? I mean, if you cited a textbook that went out of print or whatever and nobody could get at it, I don't think you could then photocopy the entire thing so people could have it for reference. Right?
Edited 2010-06-29 01:58 am (UTC)
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC)
Honestly, I have no idea. I use cached Google pages and the Wayback Machine myself, so I'm not sure what a fan who actually doesn't like the implications of the Wayback Machine would say. I mean, I think there are some people who really do think that once something is taken down by the original author, it should disappear forever. They'll argue that you shouldn't go around story-finder communities asking for fic that has been taken down (for whatever reason) by the author.

Not sure how many people in fandom actually feel that way--it might be a small minority.

OTOH, if someone deleted a wanky post during Racefail and we were forced to rely on screencaps to continue the discussion, how many of those same people would object then? Why is fic more protected than meta?

(Though I gotta say, I'm not keen on what Google is doing.)
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 04:16 am (UTC)
I think Scrollgirl may be referring to requests that anyone who has a saved copy of a story that an author has removed from the web and requested not be shared give a copy to the asker? (That happened in a storyfinders community, recently, and it was discussed briefly.) I believe it's an issue of respect for the authors whose works we enjoy and perceptions of entitlement.

I don't think the use of meta-caps in discussions necessarily is or should be protected, though it happens in some circles, most notably Fandom Wank. I don't believe that's the model most fiction fen prefer to base their fannish interactions on, usually.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
why a public post deserves less protection than a public story.

Well, it works both ways too. In terms of public versus private, I think some would argue that taking down a fic is no different than if I took down my post about what happened at my cousin's BBQ, or a post in which I speculate about the Doctor Who finale. If I locked or filtered a post in my journal, I would be appalled to discover someone had screencapped it and was passing it around. Why should the fic I've posted to my journal, which I've now locked, or which I've taken down from an archive, be any different? Those are my words, and if I no longer want to share them, why would someone who claims to be part of my community try to undermine this decision? Simply because they think it's significant to fandom history?

Just playing devil's advocate.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
....we're fans and our fannish morals say that capping or reproducing any portion of a website or a blog entry without permission is wrong

This is the perspective that I was approaching the question from--that fen may perceive deliberate, targeted archiving of their stories--even a single page of a story (and many stories are only a single page long)--as a transgression of fannish mores when the archiving was instigated by another fan, rather than by a bot. The larger question of whether linking to bot-collected fannish output transgresses is worthy of discussion, too, but it was the idea that this user-instigated collecting and archiving would be done by those in the same community as the collected that gave me pause and made me wonder if this approach should be examined, first.
Edited 2010-06-29 03:59 am (UTC)
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 07:45 am (UTC)
As I have said elsewhere assuming the tool works as I have set out there it seems to be very difficult to argue that its use in the UK (and that would include picking up material from UK sources) would not infringe copyright.* I'm also rather sceptical having looked at the WebCite's FAQ's that their basis for arguing that it's legal in the US is based on a 2006 first instance judgement - in terms of internet law that sounds rather like arguing that a medical procedure is safe because archaeological evidence shows it was used in the Neolithic era. However, you've presumably got better access to advice on that topic than I have.

*There are some interesting arguments based on the location of Web-Cite's servers, admittedly,
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
I'm somewhat bothered by the fact that the wiki on WebCite states this
Rather than relying on a web crawler which archives pages in a "random" fashion, WebCite users who want to cite web pages in a scholarly article can initiate the archiving process.
whereas the reasoning of Field v. Google expressly found
But when a
user requests a Web page contained in the Google cache by clicking on a “Cached” link, it is the
user, not Google, who creates and downloads a copy of the cached Web page. Google is passive
in this process. Google’s computers respond automatically to the user’s request. Without the
user’s request, the copy would not be created and sent to the user, and the alleged infringement at
issue in this case would not occur. The automated, non-volitional conduct by Google in response
to a user’s request does not constitute direct infringement under the Copyright Act.

The two operations are almost complete opposites of each other. Furthermore, the Google result also depends on an implied licence agreement which depended on Field knowing that Google was going to crawl over his material and cache it. As I uncerstand it, this isn't the case with WebCite; people make a choice whether or not to cache it and that choice is made on an item by item basis. Finally, the Court held that Google was entitled to the safe harbor provisions of the DCMA; again, I'm not sure if these would be available to WebCite.

I'm not arguing that WebCite's activities might not qualify for being fair use, but I don't think Field v. Google goes nearly so far to justify them as they seem to think it does.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010 07:19 am (UTC)
wow, that's the weirdest view of the word "cache" ever. I am certain that Google stores the full text of indexed documents both in the inverted (searchable) index and in the original order, in order to do snippets as well as view as html. I suppose it could be argued that it's a potential document until rendered, but then all web pages pretty much fit that criterion.

Luckily, Google has enough money to buy fleets of lawyers, and in this they seem to be on the side of public access. Unlike the Google Libraries digitization project, where they want to charge for access...
Friday, July 2nd, 2010 07:39 am (UTC)
I think the reasoning in Field was flaky in the extreme; basically the judge seems to have seen a clear public policy reason to allow Google caching and did whatever he needed to reach that result. Which is why I suspect WebCite are putting themselves out on a limb by relying on it for a different business model.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010 01:02 pm (UTC)
I'm not a lawyer, but I think WebCite is illegal under German Copyright law, and the Wayback Machine as well.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
The ruling says that publishing a website (and optimizing it for search engines) without a robots.txt implies consenting to being indexed in the Google Image Search. You can take back your consent, and then a search engine isn't allowed to show your work anymore. There's a passage in the ruling where they point out that images that are deleted from the indexed website disappear from the Google Search as soon as possible, too.

But WebCite (and the Archive) preserve those sites for when they get deleted, and I think that deleting a website probably counts as withdrawing consent.

Disclaimer: What I've found wrt WebCite's legality in Germany predates the BGH ruling (and is all in German. :() Generally most rulings wrt copyright used to stress the necessity of opt-in procedures instead of this opt-out, so we'll see how it goes.
Edited 2010-07-02 05:33 pm (UTC)
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
But newspaper attorneys are trying to get the issue revisited (when profits get involved, law gets weird)

I read that article and found it ill-informed and rather annoying; specifically the ad hominem attack on Sanford and Brown. I mean, take a daft statement like
Of course, both the Washington Post and the WSJ conveniently left out the fact that these two lawyers regularly represent newspapers and other media and entertainment firms -- even as that seems rather relevant (what happened to those FTC disclosure laws?).

I mean, you only have to Google Sanford and this is the top hit (to say nothing of the fact that I believe he was the man who had his own blog which was one of the better IP blogs on the web until people's refusal to see him as distinct from his clients forced him to shut up shop).

In context, the allegation of "non-disclosure" is so bloody ridiculous as is the assertion
Perhaps Sanford and Brown are unfamiliar with basic copyright law, but the commercial advantage issue is only a small part of copyright law, and there are plenty of well-established cases of fair use in commercial use.

Anyone who knows a blind thing about IP law will see that the bit of their article he cites is referring to a specific provision in the copyright code regarding permitted archiving, and Masnick's comments regarding fair use (which is a defence to infringement) are just laughably off base. In fact, Masnick is coming over in that article as one of those typical "IANAL and that makes me both morally superior to and inherently more in tune with the underlying subject matter" Internet weevils.
Edited 2010-06-29 06:11 pm (UTC)
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
To be utterly frank, about 95% or more of (non-criminal) legal cases are about money. The legal system is essentially about defining, protecting and allocating property rights, and even things you think aren't about property (like marriage) often are, at bottom.

Legal precedent doesn't exist in some sort of vacuum; certainly not in the case of IP. You can have a French/civil law concept of droit moral but neither the UK nor the US does, though the UK has grafted some droit moral concepts onto its IP law because of the harmonising effects of the EU. As a result, one of the fundamental questions of IP law is economic harm. If it's difficult to see a definable economic harm, then the sensible advice is not to bother suing, irrespective of whether one theoretically has rights or not.

But if you ever got an author who was as rich as JKR and as bonkers as Diane Gabaldon, then's where you'd get "litigation in principle". And that, imho, is where you see precedent really getbent.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
What "smoke and mirrors"? Neither of them are directly employed by newspapers; both of them act for clients who are newspapers but (conflicts excepted) would no doubt argue the other side if they were instructed to do so.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010 07:14 am (UTC)
I think that the consensus is that once it's on the web, it's not private. That's not the same as public, and it expresses the awkward balancing act. That's what the British Library is working through, and the Internet Archive. I think that Brewster Kale had some sort of mesmeric power or a lot of blackmail material in the early web: while librarians were timid, he just went ahead and grabbed everything. Thank goodness!

Practically, Google and all the other search engines out there, are so useful that courts all over seem resistant to finding infringement.

There's a lot of value for fanlore in storing a copy of a linked-to page for future reference. That doesn't necessarily mean publishing or posting, but having something rather than nothing is extremely valuable in really expressing a plural point of view.

Guess I come down on the side of archiving as a relative benefit to us.
Friday, July 2nd, 2010 07:41 am (UTC)
I think that the consensus is that once it's on the web, it's not private. That's not the same as public, and it expresses the awkward balancing act

I don't think anyone would disagree that, for the purposes of breach of confidence, material put up on the web ceased to be confidential. But its author does not, as a result, lose copyright and it's the act of copying which is beinglooked at here.