Thursday, January 18, 2007

Securing access for the Canadian intellect... past, present, future?

There seems to be some truth in the idea that, at the present time and in the North American context, digital technology has greatly increased access to information for many.

Now I pose an immediate challenge to that goofy, sweeping declaration: will access remain secure--today, tomorrow, ten, one hundred or one thousand years from now?

One moment. We aren't talking about those fleeting moments of post-apocalyptic speculation that I have every once in a while--particularly when guilty of surrending too much autonomy/affection to an electronic gadget!

We are talking about the threat to human knowledge posed by ever-present changes in tech infrastructure, the vulnerable, transitory nature of digital information, and the challenges to preservation initiated by those who place "digital locks" on documents in the form of digital rights management software (DRM).

Surprisingly, the federal government has taken the first step to ensure that some online publications will be preserved--new regulations have been introduced by Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda. Effective January 1, 2007, these regulations create the legal and procedural process by which digital material will be deposited with Library and Archives Canada.

Michael Geist has an excellent article on this development--he discusses the details of the new regulations, how eligible online publications are defined, and the weaknesses of this new regulatory scheme.

A small, but progressive step in the larger struggle to preserve digital information so that future Canadians may think and learn and grow.

Source: Buttercup, MLIS student

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