In a recent New York Times article, I learned of the fascinating mission of the Internet Archive: to maintain an archive of all internet web pages and websites which have ever existed (or at least since 1996). The article described a lawsuit by a company against the Archive claiming that the latter had no right to display its [the company’s] defunct website among its [Internet Archive] archived pages. The company sued the archive for violation of copyright. The company’s case appears to me (an untutored law layperson) to be howlingly weak.
But what really piqued my interest in the Archive and it’s cooly-named Wayback Machine, was a problem that Friends of Madrona Woods had been having in retrieving its defunct website from the site’s host. For months, I’d heard of the impossibility of ever gaining access to the old site. Apparently, the person who created it forgot to renew the domain registration and hosting fees. He also forgot his username and password data and so lost access to everything pertinent to the site.
A bell went off in my head when I heard about the Archive: maybe our old site was archived there as well? Damned if I wasn’t right. While I didn’t know the specific URL for the old site, I tinkered a bit and did a search and sure enough in a few seconds I found our site in all its former glory. Now we can retrieve the site copy, images, maps and navigation structure for use in our new site. I’m simply amazed that what had appeared a hopelessly intractable problem (getting access to our site) was solved in a mere matter of seconds through the miracle of the Archive.
And to think some stupid company would like to put this wonderful research tool out of business for the purpose of some ridiculous lawsuit!