This episode explores the coupling of software preservation to public accountability – and explore the role of community governance on the one hand and the design of information systems on the other as complements to formal legal mechanisms for ensuring long-term access to software. Are there ways to instantiate a collective action solution that treats software as an international shared resource among cultural stewardship and research organizations?

Discussion Questions:

  • What is the role of software preservation and curation in addressing/understanding algorithmic transparency and algorithmic bias (e.g., training models, etc.)
  • Addressing the popularity of public/private initiatives, (e.g. SmartCity initiatives), how can the public investment be protected in the longer term?
  • What can digital preservation practitioners do in order to ensure that software dependency concerns are heard and taken in to consideration by law/policy makers?
  • In a consortial approach to software preservation, sharing and reuse:
    • What is the role of community governance (agreements between organizations around use and access) in filling gaps where there are no explicit legalities that address research and not-for-profit reuse needs?
    • What is the role of technology (implemented governance/business rules into the software – like a form of technological protection measure to mediate access) where there are no explicit legalities that address research and not-for-profit reuse needs?



Supplementary materials:

Websites & Blogs

United States Legal Context:

Canadian Legal Context:

Articles & Reports

United Kingdom Legal Context:

  • Charlesworth, Andrew. (2012) Intellectual Property Rights for Digital Preservation: DPC Technology Watch Report 12-02 2012,
  • Kemper, Jakko; Kolkman, Daan. (2018) Transparent to whom? No algorithmic accountability without a critical audience, Information, Communication & Society, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2018.1477967
  • Rowland, D., Kohl, U. & Charlesworth, A. (2016) Information Technology Law. 1 Aug 2016 5th ed. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Schafer, Burkhard; Edwards, Lilian. (2017). ‘“I spy, with my little sensor”: Fair data handling practices for robots between privacy, copyright and security’, Connection science, Vol 29, pp 200-209
  • Schafer, Burkhard; Komuves, David; Zatarain, Jesus Niebla. Diver, Laurence. (2015).  ‘A fourth law of robotics?: Copyright and the law and ethics of machine co-production’, Artificial Intelligence and Law, Vol 23, pp 217-240
  • Schafer, Burkhard. (2015). ‘D-waste: Data disposal as challenge for waste management in the Internet of Things’, International Review for Information Ethics, Vol 22, pp 100-106

United States Legal Context:

  • Whitt, Richard S. (2017).  ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’ — Technical, Policy, and Financial Actions to Avert the Coming Digital Dark Ages. Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal, Vol. 33, No. 2, 2016. Available at SSRN:

Preferred citation:

Software Preservation Network. Digital Preservation Coalition. (2018, July 18). Episode 7: Software Preservation and Public Accountability: Moving the Needle. Software Preservation Network.