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Copyrights and CD-Rs Endanger Audio History 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the digital-erosion dept.
SEWilco writes "A study by the Library of Congress has found that many audio recordings are being lost due to copyright restrictions and temporary media. Old audio recordings are protected by a various US state copyrights, so it's hard for preservationists to get and copy material. Recent data is threatened by being put on writable CDs, because CD-Rs begin to lose data after a few years, so recordings from as recently as 9/11 and the 2008 elections are already at risk."
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Copyrights and CD-Rs Endanger Audio History

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  • Vanishing People (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denshao2 (1515775) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:21AM (#33768140) Homepage Journal
    We will be a mystery to archaeologists of the future.
    • Re:Vanishing People (Score:4, Informative)

      by Doctor_Jest (688315) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:31AM (#33768182)
      It reminds me of the Dr. Who episode (the David Tenant series) where the doctor is aboard a space cruise liner called "The Titanic".... their analysis of humanity was suspect, having cannibalistic rituals after going to war with Turkey or something like that.

      And Kylie Minogue looks fabulous for a 40 year old.... :)
      • Re:Vanishing People (Score:4, Informative)

        by Inf0phreak (627499) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:00AM (#33768318)
        Well... to be fair the guide had faked his degree in earthonomics.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I just re-watched "Voyage of the Damned" several hours ago. :)

        However, I disagree that that's anything like this problem. In that episode, Mr. Copper wasn't from Earth to begin with. A closer match to this story might be the misinformation possessed by Lady Cassandra O'Brien.17 in the episode "The End of the World" (2005, ep 2) (although in Cassandra's defense, she's separated from the 20th century by about five billion Earth years).

        • Damn it. Clicked "Submit" instead of "Continue Editing" by mistake. Cassandra's name should end in a "dot-delta-17". Silly Slashdot support for whatever the hell kind of code that is.

          Stupid force of habit, clicking buttons that make posts like that. >_<

    • by symbolset (646467) * on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:10AM (#33768556) Homepage Journal

      It is essential to the people who will sell us our culture in the future that we forget all that has gone before. If we remembered our heritage it would be necesary to innovate new things. If we can't, then recycled things will suffice - which cuts down the production cost.

      The goal therefore of the media giants is to make us nye culturne. A people devoid of culture. They're having great success at this.

      An opposing project would be Musopen [musopen.com].

      • LOL....great conspiracy theory (I really love reading the stuff people on here come up with), but do you SERIOUSLY think the media industries are thinking and planning THAT far ahead? Not to mention the fact that, as far as they are concerned, old cultural products are nearly irrelevant to their profits. How many people under 30 are watching black and white movies (or even movies from the 70s), or listening to bands from the 60's and earlier? Yeah, there are a few notable exceptions, but for the most part,

        • It's actually a very short-term line of thinking. It starts with a fear of losing their oldest but still popular item (think Mickey Mouse). "Quick! Extend copyrights before we lose this monopoly!" they would think. Now they have a huge catalog that isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

          Now whenever it's time to be creative they have two paths. Create something new, and try to make sure it's not infringing on anyone else's huge catalog. Or take something that was popular in a certain demographic and remake it at

      • >>>then recycled things will suffice

        You mean like how modern Dance music sounds suspiciously similar to 70s/early 80s disco and electronica? ;-) Actually we have a better memory now then before. If we didn't have services like youtube, we'd have to rely on radio for music and they never play anything older than ten years. We truly would have forgotten what 60s/70s/80s music sounded like, except for those few geeks that collect old worn records.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Idbar (1034346)
        It is also important for humanity not to repeat their same mistakes. Justin Beaver recordings NEED to be protected/archived!
    • Hardly (Score:2, Interesting)

      by m50d (797211)

      Previous generations weren't even trying to preserve anything. Plenty of stuff will make it to the future; it only needs one copy of a CD or whatever to survive

    • by gringer (252588)

      We will be a mystery to archaeologists of the future.

      You people from the future are a mystery to us here in New Zealand. 9/11 hasn't happened for us yet.

    • by Wowsers (1151731)

      We will be a mystery to archaeologists of the future.

      Thank goodness. Imagine they manage to find some quaint old archive format like CD's and the one they find is something like Lady Ga-Ga. Based on not finding anything else of the time, they would conclude that in early 21st Century, people were tone deaf.

    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:26PM (#33770614) Homepage

      We will be a mystery to archaeologists of the future.

      No we won't, and I'm tired of hearing this trite assertion repeated as a truism. This is one of those things that has become a meme because it sounds plausible, but under analysis it's flawed because it (a) disregards the massive proliferation of digital data and (b) misapplies digital fragility.

      To start off with, most artifacts and information from previous cultures have likely perished too. On top of this we're producing a staggering amount of information- or at least data- in general compared to previous generations.

      It's true that any given piece of data stored on a given digital medium is arguably at higher risk of being lost. But this disregards the fact that there may easily be multiple copies of that information stored elsewhere.

      However, the primary flaw is that it focuses on the fragility of any *specific* piece of digital information, e.g. that photo of your dog in a funny hat you have stored on a mouldering old CD-R is at serious risk of being lost forever. While that's true, it doesn't apply to this situation, because our future archaeologists or historians probably won't require specific pieces of information to have a decent idea of our culture- they'll merely require an adequately large arbitrary selection of such data to get a decent picture of who we were.

      And because there's so much data out there, we could probably lose 99.999% of the stuff at random and it'd still probably be far easier to reconstruct our culture than those that have gone before.

      So yeah, if one is worried about a particular hilarious photo of their dog, or any given film, or whatever... digital fragility is an issue. But using it to asssert that our culture is going to become a digital "black hole" to future generations is fundamentally flawed.

      We will not disappear from history- at least not for those reasons.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:22AM (#33768142)

    Rip those CDs, create a torrent, and share that torrent on thelibarianbay.org. Problem solved!

  • Depends on the Discs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Oceanplexian (807998) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:26AM (#33768156) Homepage
    I have some optical media that's from ~2001. Most of it's just fine, even after a tortured life. I trust high quality optical media more than anything else.

    CDs are rarely an all-or-nothing affair. Even if you do lose data, you tend to not lose it all in one freak accident, not to mention solid state and magnetic media make fantastic paperweights after a solar storm.
    • I agree. I'm notorious for not taking care of my CDs, but I still have media from my first CD-R from 1998 that work. Those were the CDs that came with the drive. For important data I buy the gold plated CD-R/DVD-R medium which if stored properly is supposed to last 20+ years. I trust it.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        I have tons of CD-Rs from as far back as 1998 with data or music on them. Unless they are physically damaged (scratched), I have yet to find one that doesn't work.
    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:01AM (#33768328)
      Since CDs have Reed-Solomon and parity for error correction, and even if samples fail the player will interpolate, you can have a pretty ruined disk before it won't play anymore. It is all or nothing once it starts to fail though-- at the point the interpolation can no longer repair a dirty section, the CD will simply drop out.

      I also recently (yesterday actually!) opened an old DVD+R (with an HFS volume) from 2002 and rearchived it to a new DVD. It still read perfectly, but it's been stored in a cool dark place, and has been mounted maybe 10 times.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by aaa_zzz_ccc (1913554)

        Since CDs have Reed-Solomon and parity for error correction, and even if samples fail the player will interpolate, you can have a pretty ruined disk before it won't play anymore. It is all or nothing once it starts to fail though-- at the point the interpolation can no longer repair a dirty section, the CD will simply drop out.

        I also recently (yesterday actually!) opened an old DVD+R (with an HFS volume) from 2002 and rearchived it to a new DVD. It still read perfectly, but it's been stored in a cool dark place, and has been mounted maybe 10 times.

        I agree

      • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @04:28AM (#33768976)

        ...but it's been stored in a cool dark place, and has been mounted maybe 10 times.

        Sigh. I know how that feels.

      • by X0563511 (793323) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @08:46AM (#33769606) Homepage Journal

        Cool and dark are the really important parts. On write-once optical media, UV will fade the dye making it harder to distinguish pit/land transitions, while high temperature will melt the unmelted dye, making the pits/lands closer together (thus also making the transitions more difficult to discern).

        Using RW media will alleviate some of this problem, as this uses a phase-change mechanism instead which is more "digital" than the dye used in write-once.

      • Isn't it possible to look at the number of missing bits and guess at them to recover everything but where the bits are missing?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by iluvcapra (782887)

          This is effectively what the error codes are for. On a raw level there's no such thing as a "missing bit," you either have a zero or a one, but error codes can tell you if it's the correct value or not. If enough of the data and redundant Reed-Solomon codes are on the media, the incorrect value can be corrected, and if there isn't enough, for small errors the player can interpolate. Because a Red Book CD carries a very specific kind of high redundancy data, PCM audio, the reader can then use various strat

    • I have some optical media that's from ~2001. Most of it's just fine, even after a tortured life. I trust high quality optical media more than anything else.

      Multiple copies on multiple media that is easy to transfer, and transfer them often. Nothing else will work for a human lifetime. For my family photos it's hard drives (multiple) and every couple of years I make a fresh copy or two (and don't throw away the old ones). I even keep copies off site. CDs and music, I couldn't care less about. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that to me none of it matters, but if it did I'd do the same thing. The thing that makes optical copies so insidious is that if yo

    • by symbolset (646467) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @02:29AM (#33768616) Homepage Journal

      That's like, forever, man.

      Kid, the Library of Congress was founded in 1800 - longer ago than your grandfather's grandfather's dad could remember. 210 years ago. Most of the stuff they had then, they still have now. They're not worried about preserving the top40 from your middle school days until you're disrespecting it in college. They want to be the repository for our culture forever. They're sort of like preemptive anthropologists and archaeologists. They know that you don't care but they're expecting that someone, someday will because cultural sensitivity is a cyclical thing.

      It's customary that new generations forget what has gone before and then rediscover it as if it were a new thing. This forgetting is not required. If we can quit forgetting then artists can stand on the shoulders of giants once again and build things of great and complex beauty like they once did.

      Given the current state of copyright though, you can't whistle any four notes in a row in public without getting sued. Anything like a symphony is right out.

      • They want to be the repository for our culture forever.

        Yeah, right. I suggest reading the book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper by Nicholson Baker. American libraries -- including the Library of Congress -- are apparently full of people who aren't interested in preserving knowledge, or if they are, are very bad at it in practice.

        Given the current state of copyright though, you can't whistle any four notes in a row in public without getting sued. Anything like a symphony is right out.

        Of course

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Reziac (43301) *

          On that note, I was appalled at what I saw on the discard table at my university's library. Huge pile of old technical and research volumes, some dating to the mid-1800s. Outdated? Yeah. Often wrong? Sure. But a snapshot of the state of science at the time, which is itself a valuable historical resource.

          We no longer believe in (most of) the gods and demons our ancestors did, but it's still culturally useful to have information on the beliefs of the era. We no longer practice the styles of government, the hu

    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      Must be lucky to live in exactly the right type of environment. About 20% roughly of my 90s era CDs have suffered from flaking. The home burnt ones were the first to go, the worst I've had was 3 years life out of them. A lot of people I know place CDs and DVDs upside down on the desk to protect the playing surface not knowing that that surface can be fixed by polishing. It's really a shame to see some of them go.

      Also the loss depends on the type of data and where the problem occurs. Put a disc with a sc
    • I have some optical media that's from ~2001. Most of it's just fine, even after a tortured life. I trust high quality optical media more than anything else.

      My first CDR was burned in late 1997. It reads perfectly fine, and I expect it to read perfectly fine in 2025. Then again, it's a Taiyo Yuden under TDK disguise, and not some cheap CMC, Ritek or Moser Baer piece of shit.

      A national radio station in my country has serious, serious issues with audio copies. Every single CD that was bought got ripped (badly!) and burned to a couple of CDRs for radio use, while the original was stored away and became unavailable. The idiots in charge of the process bought cheap

    • I believe the issue is that you don't know if you get high quality discs because the brand name doesn't say who actually made the disc and while you may have better luck with high quality brands that doesn't guarantee anything.

      I have all my CD-Rs starting from around '98/'99 still and as far as I know they still work (just used one fairly recently) and I think just as long as you take decent care of things then they should be good. That said everything is still backed up to hard drives.
    • by linebackn (131821)

      I've had pretty good luck with CD-R media over the years. I still have some CD-Rs from the mid 90s that are still perfectly readable. Although I did come across a batch that couldn't be read in any newer (made in the last 3 or 4 years) DVD drive I have. The disks were still perfectly fine, and could read flawlessly in older CD/DVD drives but newer drives would go totally berserk reading them. My best guess is the Windows 3.1 CD burning software I used back then did something slightly non standard that newer

  • The government must be using this as an excuse to destroy evidences on 9/11.
    • It's true. Obama plans on removing all references to 9/11. If he is reelected, September will only have 29 days, and will go straight from the 10th to the 12th.
      • by Goody (23843)
        Bill Ayers worked on the CD-R standard, so he's involved in the conspiracy. (Fox News, you can report on this without verifying....)
  • by LBt1st (709520) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:28AM (#33768164)

    Don't worry, there'll be a torrent ;)

  • by sycodon (149926) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:29AM (#33768172)

    Does not the Library of Congress make it a habit to acquire as much of this kind of material as possible? Isn't seen as a mark of success to have your recordings in the LOC?

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:16AM (#33768384)

      The Library of Congress used to have a goal of including complete hard copies, at least for items of US origin and 'good grade' (that is, they aimed to have copies of things such as hardback books that were intended to last, more than, say, ephemera such as the pulp magazines). However, that goal has become an obvious impossibility due to sheer volume. After about 1960, the library began being more selective.
                  That's bad enough in some senses, but unfortunately, there's also a secondary effect. Pick a subject you know well, and go to the library, and examine the LOC page at the front of the book for a few dozen volumes of varying ages. That information will tell you if the book has been archived in the LOC, but it will also include other details, such as what topics it is indexed under. For example, a biography of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall might be indexed more specifically under 'Biographies of Prominent Americans' and not just 'Biography', and it might also be indexed under "Non-fiction', 'Legal Commentary', and "20th Century History". Many of these index terms were developed as a standard system, but that system seems to have more and more glitches with time. In general, you'll see more and more errors, both of accuracy and by simple omission, for the newer books. I don't know if there's any real explanation of why the indexing seems to become worse after the LOC gave up trying to have physical copies of all significant works, but many people think they have noticed a certain 'sloppyness'.
              For works such as audio or video recordings, it could be very hard to get any useful information if the same pattern holds. Imagine for example, researching video and 30% of all the westerns aren't indexed as westerns, while some documentary footage about life in the old west has been miss-classified as 'fiction' and 'western'. Then add there was also once a rule that anything shorter than 8 commercial reels was considered a short, but somebody forgot that rule about 1976 and started thinking it was anything under 30 minutes running time. Whatever the subject, problems such as these are likely to crop up.

      • The presence of an LCCN or an LCC on a publication's copyright page is no guarantee that is it physically present in the LOC. Even if it has the more detailed Cataloging-in-Publication card entry text it may have been constructed by someone to make the book look more important.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ChrisMaple (607946)
        There are some difficulties in classifying that have become more prominent in recent decades. Authors put lies or obvious fictions in what are nominally non-fiction books, such as Bill Bryson's travelog "A Walk In the Woods". In the other direction, large sections of Frederick Forsyth's books, nominally fiction, are detailed and insightful descriptions of current events. What's a classifier to do?
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @05:18AM (#33769108) Journal

        Many of these index terms were developed as a standard system, but that system seems to have more and more glitches with time

        It's called ontology drift. It was a big problem for the cyc project. They started entering all human knowledge, and after 20 years found that they were entering the same stuff again because the index terms had changed over time. A large amount of semantic web and AI research is devoted to combatting this problem.

      • After about 1960, the library began being more selective. That's bad enough in some senses...

        Nah, we're not missing much. The 1960s is when completely useless books began to be published in earnest. The LOC didn't include pulp magazines because they didn't have broad cultural significance, and the torrent of academic books written under Publish or Perish should be in the same category. The pulps at least had widespread appeal as entertainment. There are hundreds of thousands of books published nowadays that do nothing except dilute the results of topical searches and bloat indices; listing me

  • Old news.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bomarc (306716) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:30AM (#33768176) Homepage
    The slashdot article "How To Verify CD-R Data Retention Over Time?" [slashdot.org] covered this a LONG time ago...
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:31AM (#33768186) Homepage

    so recordings from as recently as 9/11

    Jesus Christ, that was just last month!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mogusha (1091607)
      Actually, it's 11 months in the future, September, 2011.
    • That made me laugh hard, thanks =D

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by citoxE (1799926)
      If you run on a certain date format, your future endeavors are put as risk as well!
    • Double Holy $hit REALLY -

      Next year will be the 10th Anniversary! The politicians are close to their death-lock on forever with that meme.

      5digit types, I need to know, were people still proportionally this freaked by Pearl Harbor in the 1950's?

      • ...were people still proportionally this freaked by Pearl Harbor in the 1950's?

        Hell sonny, I was in Pearl in 1950! I was the Engineer's Mate on PT-73: otherwise know as the USS Jack Kennedy at the time.
        *wheezes, and hitches pants up above socks as eyes glaze over*

        Eh? Who are you, again?

        On a more serious note, my maternal grand mother still held a grudge against the Japanese from WW2 up into the 1980's when she died.
        She claimed one of her brothers was a POW, and getting back stateside after release, he died from eating his first 'decent' meal since being a POW.

        To more precisely answer

        • Awesome answer.

          More precisely, I'm trying to find Pre-2000 examples of events which were sorta small by themselves but blown into vicious campaigns. Discounting Vietnam, and even my own Pearl example, of your list I'd pick:

          Korean War
          Panama
          New Grenada
          1st Iraqi war(Kuwait)
          Murray Bldg. in Oklahoma

          The only one I'd put close would be the 1st Iraqi/Kuwait war, because I was Young & Impressionable and remember that the event made its way into parodies. I definitely don't recall multi-year blather about a "post

      • 5digit types, I need to know, were people still proportionally this freaked by Pearl Harbor in the 1950's?

        Well the cyber-fearmongers are still throwing around the term "cyber pearl harbor" today...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Over here it is next month!
  • Not quite right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cappp (1822388) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:37AM (#33768216)
    Copyright doesn't have that effect at all. Infact the Digital Millenium Copyright Act specifically creates the option for libraries and archives to create copies for preservation. Check out the actual law [cornell.edu] which includes

    it is not an infringement of copyright for a library or archives, or any of its employees acting within the scope of their employment, to reproduce no more than one copy or phonorecord of a work, except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), or to distribute such copy or phonorecord, under the conditions specified by this section, if—

    (1) the reproduction or distribution is made without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage;

    (2) the collections of the library or archives are
    (i) open to the public, or
    (ii) available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives or with the institution of which it is a part, but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field; and

    (3) the reproduction or distribution of the work includes a notice of copyright that appears on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section, or includes a legend stating that the work may be protected by copyright if no such notice can be found on the copy or phonorecord that is reproduced under the provisions of this section.
    (b) The rights of reproduction and distribution under this section apply to three copies or phonorecords of an unpublished work duplicated solely for purposes of preservation and security or for deposit for research use in another library or archives of the type described by clause (2) of subsection (a), if—

    (1) the copy or phonorecord reproduced is currently in the collections of the library or archives; and
    (2) any such copy or phonorecord that is reproduced in digital format is not otherwise distributed in that format and is not made available to the public in that format outside the premises of the library or archives.

    If you're referencing personal preservation rights then you should read this article [stanford.edu]from the Standford Libraries on copyright and fairuse.

    • Re:Not quite right (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anaerin (905998) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:40AM (#33768452)

      Okay, great. So where is the (completely legal under US law) software that the Library of Congress can use to back up Blu-Rays that have been released recently? Or, indeed, legal (Under US law) software that they can use to back up DVDs? Nowhere, because such software is in direct conflict with the DMCA, and thus is illegal.

      • Use a camcorder (Score:4, Informative)

        by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:33AM (#33769442) Homepage Journal

        So where is the (completely legal under US law) software that the Library of Congress can use to back up Blu-Rays that have been released recently?

        It's called the analog hole [wikipedia.org], and the MPAA has endorsed it [arstechnica.com].

      • Nowhere, because such software is in direct conflict with the DMCA, and thus is illegal.

        If it has a legal purpose such the above referenced archiving, it is legal under the DMCA.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JesseMcDonald (536341)

          The software itself may be legal in such cases, but it remains illegal to discuss how to create such software, or to distribute such software to others, which means it's still illegal unless you can break the encryption and write the software all by yourself. How many people do you think are capable of that?

      • Legal or not, the software already exists (because people are ignoring the law, and also because laws are different around the world), and because there is an exemption in the DMCA for libraries, I don't think there would be any issue with them using such software.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851)
        The Library of Congress decides what is an is not allowed circumvention under the DMCA every several years. And if they're finding that the works are disappearing due to DRM the likelihood of backups being legally recognized by the Library of Congress increases drastically.

        Which is ultimately good news. It's not going to help with Blu-Rays in the short term, but it would make it legal for companies to sell backup software as they'd no longer have to violate the DMCA to do it. And considering that the sof
    • Actually, no (Score:3, Informative)

      by abulafia (7826)

      You are correct about federal law. State copyright law is a very different kettle of snapping turtles with regards to audio copyrights. Due to weirdness in the way federal copyright law is constructed, audio recordings made before 1972 are not covered, and so federal copyright law does not preempt state law, and so audio works made prior to then are covered by state common law copyright. In most states, this affords protection until 2049. Some states passed anti-copying and other laws, making it a huge mine

  • by porkThreeWays (895269) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:44AM (#33768250)
    For longevity, current backup systems are just silly. They are simply just not abstracted enough. For REAL archival what's needed is an active system like the Internet but one that guarantees n redundancy. Perhaps a p2p like system with nodes backing up files. This abstracts away whether they are going on SATA, IDE, SCSI, Tape, whatevs. The local machine handles all the hardware details. When newer, better, cheaper technology comes along, the old data is automatically able to propagate onto the new storage mechanisms. I see this all the time working in the IT industry. I have backups from 10 years ago I can not read because we no longer have a working tape drive to read it. We need to separate ourselves from the hardware.
    • by hitmark (640295)

      Freenet perhaps? http://freenetproject.org/ [freenetproject.org]

    • by westlake (615356) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:43AM (#33768456)

      For REAL archival what's needed is an active system like the Internet but one that guarantees n redundancy. Perhaps a p2p like system with nodes backing up files. This abstracts away whether they are going on SATA, IDE, SCSI, Tape, whatevs. The local machine handles all the hardware details. When newer, better, cheaper technology comes along, the old data is automatically able to propagate onto the new storage mechanisms. I see this all the time working in the IT industry. I have backups from 10 years ago I can not read because we no longer have a working tape drive to read it.

      You haven't lifted a finger to track down, replace and restore the tape drive you need.

      Why then should we be trusting our data to an (allegedly) fully automated - autonomous - system which is equally likely to be neglected and ignored?

      • by peragrin (659227)

        ooh good point it should be mostly self repairing too. The safest place from attack would be high in the sky.

        we can call it SkyNet, and give it our past, present, and future.

        • by westlake (615356)

          ooh good point it should be mostly self repairing too. The safest place from attack would be high in the sky.

          The geek will rant on and on about Steamboat Willie.

          In its original form: nitrate stock.

          Cinephone [aka Phonofilm] sound-on-film.

          It takes time and money to preserve stuff like this.

          The point here is that Disney built and maintained a studio archive long before it had any obvious commercial potential.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Because an automatic system is less likely to fail. And if it does fail you're more likely to have a disk to examine. Ultimately, you are correct, if you haven't tested the back up you haven't backed anything up.

        But, human intervention tends to be the weak point in backup strategies.
  • Short term CD-R (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <(moc.ehtymswj) (ta) (ehtymswj)> on Saturday October 02, 2010 @12:53AM (#33768288) Homepage Journal

        This is kind of funny.

        I warned people about depending on floppy disks for long term storage. After a few years, the media degrades and the data is impossible to retrieve. They didn't listen until they went back to floppies from years ago that no longer work.

        I warned people that home recordable CD's and DVD's had a shelf life of less than 10 years after they were burnt. I've seen CD's burnt, verified, and then put away in a good climate controlled environment, where a few years later they couldn't be read. For those who have listened to me, I've told them, make at least two copies, in different places, (like their hard drive and a CD), and burn new disks once a year. It sucks to have years of research on something, just to find the old information is lost.

        This isn't exactly news, but every so often someone finds out, writes a story, and it makes the news again.
       

    • by NiceGeek (126629)

      I know this is just my own experience, but I've still got original C64 games that still load just fine.

      • by istartedi (132515)

        This doesn't surprise me. Magnetic media seem to be fairly stable as long as you don't subject them to temperature extremes or (duh!) magnets.

        After all, video tape is a magnetic medium and lasts for decades too. Also, in the C64 era we weren't really pushing the limits that hard. The C-64 floppies had 168,656 according to Wiki (I seemed to recall 170k, but decided to look it up, good to know I came close). At those bit densities, I bet it's fairly robust. The much, much, slower casette tape data from tha

        • I am now prepping to transfer VHS,Betamax (only one thankfully), and 8mm tapes to DVD. Not an easy project as its not straight forward. I have a very good JVC SVHS VCR and need to buy a time-base correcter. Once the capturing to digital form is done (lossless compression) the next task is to correct any other problems (color etc.), compress to MPEG-2 and then author DVDs. Needless to say... I will be keeping the original tapes and uncompressed video along with several copies of the final DVDs.
      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        Ya, there's always edge cases that survive way beyond their life expectancy. There was a story (or a few of them) where Google was restoring newsgroup postings from 1981. Some tapes worked. Some didn't. I couldn't find a story about how many tapes worked, but I found this one [salon.com] referencing the event.

        I had an old Apple IIe and a big box of floppies. A few worked, but it had been so long since I touched it that I had a real hard time trying to remember how to do anything. It t

    • A sample of ye olde media from my library
      Circa 1997 TDK Gold CD-Rs: They all work
      Circa 1996 Phillips CD-R: Works fine, its even a multi-session disc.
      Circa 2000 Ricoh CD-RW with my MP3 collection at the time: Seems to work just fine despite being in my car for over a year.
      countless generic Ritek silver discs purchased in CompUSA and used 2001-2002 for audio CDs: All of them work despite being in my car in extreme hot and cold. One has the top silver flaking off because I dropped it on the ground.
    • Most of my old 1.2MB 5.25" Floppies still read perfectly, but most of my old 1.44MB 3.5" floppies are completely unreadable. The 1.2s are much older. I assume the magnetic density must affect its stability. Or perhaps it is an inherent design flaw. Of course, it could be just the quality of the media too, but it seems independent of the brands.
    • I treat all storage as unreliable and disposable now.

      Hard drives give you the best bang for your buck, just keep backups of each of them.

      Any hard drive left stored in a cool dry place for many years is also suspect. It may fail when you plug it in and start accessing the data. Ask me how I know.

      So you should keep all your data on a drive (or set of drives) that is currently in use on an active system, ideally with SMART monitoring, and keep full backups, and check those backups at least once every few month

    • Data loss came first for the Floppies,
      and I didn't care because my data wasn't on the Floppies.

      Then data loss came for the CD Recordables,
      and I didn't care because my data wasn't on the CD Recordables.

      Then data loss came for the DVDs,
      and I didn't care because my data wasn't on the DVDs.

      Then data loss came for my data
      and by that time no other media was left to transfer it to.

  • Fit on the head of a pin? At least that's all I remember when I whenever Isee a museum exhibit about the history of computing power. I'm sure we can dig up a few pinheads along with a couple of redundant pinheads to preserve all of this data.

  • People still use CD-Rs? I just download all my audio data straight through amazon or whatever.
    • I just download all my audio data straight through amazon or whatever.

      So once you've created audio data, I understand that you archive the files for the project in your Amazon S3 account. However, you still "bear sole responsibility for adequate security, protection and backup of Your Content" according to Amazon S3's TOS [amazon.com] because Amazon could shut down your S3 account at any time when the bean-counters "determine that it is necessary or prudent to do so for legal or regulatory reasons," that is, when laws change such that S3 can no longer make a profit.

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Those that don't want to be screwed over when the site shuts down or they operator decides that you're no longer authorized to listen do. Besides, just because you can download it again, doesn't mean that you want to wait that long.
  • 300 years... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Freddybear (1805256) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @01:44AM (#33768464)

    Memorex claims 300 year life for their fancy (expensive) archival CD-R and 100 years for DVD-R.

    http://www.cdrinfo.com/sections/reviews/specific.aspx?articleid=17324 [cdrinfo.com]

    Take that with a grain of salt, of course.

  • What about DVD-Rs? Kept in spindles??
  • I think a lot of video games will be lost for the next generations, too. With Steam, Online Activations, DRM and the law that forbids to circumvent this. I think this century will be called "the dark ages", which a copyright of 100 years, the generations will not be able to use our music. If it wasn't for P2P, Torrent and Youtube there would be a cultural vacuum.

  • by AlejoHausner (1047558) on Saturday October 02, 2010 @07:28PM (#33773078) Homepage

    Short of carved writing on stone tablets (eg, the Behistun monument), the longest-lasting medium I can think of is printed paper. Libraries know how to archive it: it's called a book.

    There are ways to take digital files and convert them to bitmaps (eg www.ollydbg.de/paperbak). You can print the bitmaps, and read them back reliably with a scanner. About 500K can fit on one page of paper, so a one-hour MP3 recording (about 60MB) would take up 30 sheets of paper. If printed on acid-free stock, this should last for centuries. The pages could be bound in a book, whose introduction would describe the encoding, and provide an algorithm to extract the data.

    Why rely on currently-fashionable media like the chemical dyes in a CD-R when good old reliable natural-fiber materials like paper are known to last centuries?

    Alejo Hausner

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