[-empyre-] Culturally specific archives | law

Jon Ippolito jon.ippolito at gmail.com
Sun Oct 10 07:31:06 EST 2010

Thanks, Ben, for this informed and important excursion into the dangers that copyright holds for preserving culture.  I also much appreciated your larger conclusion that software is a form of culture.

One of the chapters of the book Rick Rinehart and I are writing is called "Death By Law"--it surveys some of the genres of new media art devastated by intellectual property (VR has been particularly hard-hit). I know your question below was in part philosophical, but here are some practical answers (some of which you may already know):

On Oct 9, 2010, at 11:54 AM, B. Bogart wrote:
> When I pass on, to whom will I entrust the software that makes up my artworks?

To archive off-the-shelf programs, the Internet Archive maintains a software archive. To do so required them to lobby for an exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

To archive custom software in executable form, Rhizome's ArtBase allows artists to archive their own projects. I believe Rhizome had also started a software archive for browser plugins and the like before the Internet Archive, though I'm not sure where it stands today.

To archive custom software source code...well, this was a battle when I was at the Guggenheim because some artists didn't want to release their source code because they thought it could make them money while they were still kicking. In response the Open Art Network proposed a third-party code escrow, comparable to the practice in commercial software development, whereby an artist would agree to let the museum have its paws on the code once it is no longer of (commercial) use to the artist. At last March's DOCAM conference, MoMA conservator Glenn Wharton confirmed this strategy seems to be getting some consideration today, at least at his museum.


Forging the Future:
New tools for variable media preservation

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