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Copyrights and CD-Rs Endanger Audio History

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the digital-erosion dept.

Media 202

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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202 comments

Vanishing People (5, Insightful)

denshao2 (1515775) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768140)

We will be a mystery to archaeologists of the future.

Re:Vanishing People (3, Informative)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768816)

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).

Re:Vanishing People (1)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768822)

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. >_<

The essential forgetting (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768556)

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] .

Re:Vanishing People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768732)

On the other hand, they will never hear celine dion and others ...

Hardly (2, Interesting)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768982)

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

TheLibrarianBay.org (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768142)

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

Depends on the Discs (5, Informative)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768156)

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.

Re:Depends on the Discs (1)

DrugCheese (266151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768270)

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.

Re:Depends on the Discs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768310)

My oldest CD-Rs are from 1997-1998 too and I scanned them not a long time ago after reading an alarmistic article similar to this one. They passed tests perfectly. My media used then: Mitsui Gold and Philips (Ritek).

Re:Depends on the Discs (3, Funny)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769248)

I think exposure to sunlight has a detrimental effect on them. So us basement dwellers are safe! I mean... you basement dwellers

Re:Depends on the Discs (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769600)

UV is responsible for much of the fading, but heat will also cause a problem.

Using a CDRW/DVDRW would likely give you a better lifespan, as those use a phase-change mechanism vs melting a 'dye'

Re:Depends on the Discs (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Depends on the Discs (2, Insightful)

aaa_zzz_ccc (1913554) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768444)

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

Re:Depends on the Discs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768672)

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

*looks around at basement*

Oh shit, that sounds just like me.

Re:Depends on the Discs (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768976)

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

Sigh. I know how that feels.

Re:Depends on the Discs (3, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769606)

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.

Multiple copies. Multiple media. (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768538)

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 you gather a large enough collection together it becomes very difficult to transfer them. You end up shuffling disks for months. No thanks. Only some of my oldest copies are on optical media.

OOh. You've got media that lived nine years (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768616)

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.

Re:OOh. You've got media that lived nine years (0, Troll)

PenisLands (930247) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769604)

Ooooh, you're so insightful. Listen, BIG PENIS. I've been PENIS since before you could remember.

Re:Depends on the Discs (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768806)

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 scratch in the inside leadin tracks in the drive and you're likely to just have your computer lock-up for 20 seconds. Scratch some outer part and you're more likely to just be missing a few files.

Re:Depends on the Discs (1)

A Friendly Troll (1017492) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769094)

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 computer drives, the CDs were ripped in burst mode, and everything was burned to the absolute cheapest disc available at the time. Some of those haven't even lasted for half a year before the data layer started physically "melting" away.

Re:Depends on the Discs (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769346)

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.

Re:Depends on the Discs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33769500)

I have CDR's that I burned in 1996 that are still very readable. I think the article is full of some sensationalism designed ot get people to read a very boring article that really does not apply to them.

Honestly, CDR's have more longevity than magnetic tape. I have magnetic tape from the 80's that is starting to exhibit bleed through so you can hear what was under it when stored for 10+ years and this is not cheapo consumer cassette this was high end studio reel to reel masters that luckily I was not stupid and recorded to CDR's in the 90's when it became available..

the magnetic recordings are now getting useless.

But: only a fool believes something lasts forever. smart people update to newer storage when possible and make multiples across technologies.

and yes I do realize that the media back then was far higher quality than the china made crap you buy today. you can still buy archival quality media from the good manufacturers.

Conspiracy theorists were right! (2, Funny)

uzyn (1165803) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768160)

The government must be using this as an excuse to destroy evidences on 9/11.

Re:Conspiracy theorists were right! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769098)

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.

Did they forget what year it was? (3, Insightful)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768164)

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

Re:Did they forget what year it was? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768434)

Actually, it would be all too fitting if a few of the more pro-copyright types had their work vanish into oblivion because of their anti-copying sentiments.

Library of Congress (2, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Library of Congress (4, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Library of Congress (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768500)

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:Library of Congress (2, Insightful)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768828)

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?

Re:Library of Congress (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769108)

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.

Remind me. (1, Funny)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768178)

Were CD-Rs the things we used before floppy disks, but after mercury delay lines, or have I got the order wrong? They were those black things with a a paper label in the middle, yes?

Re:Remind me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768336)

No, this is Slashdot. There was no computer, or any, technology before the Space Race. We were all stupid, wet idiots walking around naked and bumping into each other until we decided that walking on the Moon was very, very important. Then, suddenly, everyone got smart and built everything in a week. So yes, you definitely got something wrong, since mercury delay lines are a technology that would appear to precede the Space Race, and therefore, could not have existed since it implies people knew computers were a good idea independent of space. This is clearly nonsense. WWII was not fought with electronics and computers. All lies. There was nothing before the Space Race.

Get it right.

Re:Remind me. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769124)

Why is this a troll? CD-Rs were the dominant storage mechanism for, what, 10 years? How many people today can put Williams tubes, mercury delay lines and ferrite core memory into their correct chronological order? I'd be surprised if even the majority of Slashdot readers can, let alone the majority of normal people. In 50 years, imagine how a teenager will view floppy disks, CD-Rs and USB flash drives.

holy shit REALLY? (5, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768186)

so recordings from as recently as 9/11

Jesus Christ, that was just last month!

Re:holy shit REALLY? (2, Funny)

citoxE (1799926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768386)

If you run on a certain date format, your future endeavors are put as risk as well!

Re:holy shit REALLY? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768768)

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?

Jolly Wally Binginton: AKA 'Old LeadBottom'... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769076)

...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 your question, I would say that if you rounded up a pool of the U.S.A. public from that era, you would get a wide range of answers.

Look at more recent examples that have a bigger pool of data:
Korean War
Vietnam War
Panama
New Grenada
1st Iraqi war(Kuwait)
Murray Bldg. in Oklahoma
and numerous 'terrorist attacks', both foreign and domestic since the 1950's, cont. on until present
9/11
'War on Terror'...ongoing
Afghanistan...ongoing
2nd Iraqi war...ongoing
The current debate and fury over the mosque in NYC...ongoing

Pick your poison.

Assuming I 'got the drift' of your comment, if I were you I'd concentrate on 9/11, Afghanistan War, 2nd Iraqi War, the 'War on Terror', and the mosque debate for your answers.
My impression is that we are just as vindictive AND apathetic now as they were then, sadly.
My experience has supported this opinion, but I may be biased too...YMMV.

BTW, I'm 52, soon to be 53 years old.
I 'lurked' here quite a while before I got my /. UID, but I did watch too much "McHale's Navy" in my younger days!

Not quite right (4, Insightful)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not quite right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768662)

So long as you don't have to circumvent any copy protection on the disc in order to create the copy for preservation.

Re:Not quite right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33769484)

Well, I didn't RTFA, but TFS was talking about state copyright laws -- see, in the early days of sound recording, recorded sound was not protected under federal law, on the argument that you can't copyright facts, only creative works, and a recording of actual sounds is clearly factual. After it became clear that this was a pretty broken approach, but before congress got around to fixing it, various states passed their own copyright laws for audio, with conditions generally inconsistent with federal law. And for recordings made before federal copyright applied, there's no preemption, so the ones that specified a sufficiently long or infinite term are still in effect, on what would at first appear (by federal law) to be public-domain.

As long as computer gaming doesn't end! (1)

bobgap (613856) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768240)

Considering the declining IQ of the USA, all that history stuff is superfluous anyway...

Re:As long as computer gaming doesn't end! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768374)

Considering the declining IQ of the USA, all that history stuff is superfluous anyway...

It's what?

Current archive / backup systems are silly (2, Insightful)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Current archive / backup systems are silly (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Current archive / backup systems are silly (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769474)

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.

Short term CD-R (3, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768288)

    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.
   

Re:Short term CD-R (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768398)

Which is a good thing; it serves as a continual reminder.

The really annoying thing is when you have to migrate data from technology A to technology B. How many 3480 tape drives (for example) are available, and in good working order today? I'm tipping "not many". And that was just 26 years ago. Every time a company moves from one storage medium to another, they either migrate the data across (which very few systems make a straightforward task - sure, disk is okay, but have you ever tried to migrate, for example, NetBackup or Networker backup data from tape to tape?), or they lose it.

And that's without considering the whole issue of whether the data is useful. Let's say you just happen to have an Ingres database from the early 80s. Do you have software that can make sense of that data? Do you have a system that can run that software?

Huge, huge, huge, huge issue, that goes way beyond just audio.

Re:Short term CD-R (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768596)

    Oh, I know exactly what you mean.

    I'm trying to gather my old digital photos into one place. I've migrated servers several times, and had a couple disaster recoveries along the way. I found some pictures from the World Trade Center 09/02/2001 from about 7am to 11am. Some other pictures that were left in other places, like various workstations and company servers, were lost forever.

    I remember working in a computer store years ago, a customer brought in their PC with a RLL drive. He wanted his data. We didn't have a controller to attach it to, and his was already fried. If you were to bring an old PC into a store now with an RLL drive, you'd just get a blank stare from the tech, followed by a "what is that thing?". As time goes on, things that didn't follow the migration become harder and harder to use. I went through some hell a while back trying to convert some old letters, stored in some ancient format, to something that they could use today. They were important, so I took the time to do it. That was they were legitimately important, not the normal customer "Oh my god, everything on there is essential, I'll die without it", just to find out that they're pictures of their cat from a few weeks ago. :)

Re: even 20 year old hard drives (2, Interesting)

qubezz (520511) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769052)

At least you had the controller to get an idea what to hook the drive up to to make it work. That might give you a better idea if it was formatted RLL or MFM. After you get the drive hooked up with a replacement controller, then there's the challenge of determining the interleave and inputting the bad sector table (hopefully no more were added that weren't printed on the drive).

The problem would then be how to transfer the data off the computer, mount the drive in something else, etc. At least storing the ultimate data wouldn't be a problem, I could back up 1000 of these hard drives on my keychain fob.

You might actually find someone that can restore that data, but yes, there are many 'techs' that wouldn't immediately disqualify themselves from touching one of these [pestingers.net] and would destroy the disk data in attempting. Then try giving a Geek Squad tech a 9-track tape [electrovalueinc.com] to back up if you really want to see a head explode (and those can be used in modern operating systems too).

Re:Short term CD-R (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768624)

I had to do this with a friend's Nutshell databases. I managed to track down the program by sheer luck. I happened to have a Tandy 1000SX hanging around with a 360k 5.25" floppy drive to read the data disks. Copied it all to a Virtual PC running DOS 3.3, worked great.

Re:Short term CD-R (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768940)

You were lucky. How many people in a similar situation couldn't read the data, either because they didn't have the hardware, or because the media was dead? And if they could read the data, how many were unable to use it because they couldn't track down the program?

That's the whole point.

Re:Short term CD-R (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768422)

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

Re:Short term CD-R (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768502)

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 that era might be even more durable.... but I wonder how many people actually had the patience to deal with them once the 1541 was available at a reasonable price.

Re:Short term CD-R (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768646)

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.

Re:Short term CD-R (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768532)

    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 took several tries to find a boot disk that worked.

Re:Short term CD-R (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768608)

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.

Different Media Behaves Differently (1)

fuzznutz (789413) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769580)

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.

CD-Rs seem to last in my experience (1)

keith_nt4 (612247) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768394)

I don't know what the big deal is with CD-Rs. I mean I have some CD-Rs still around for some reason from the late 90s/early 00s that I haven't gone out of my way to treat particularly well (just a normal CD wallet or sandwiched in a spindle) and they all seem to be perfectly readable as the day I burned them. Am I missing something here? Did I just get lucky?

Re:CD-Rs seem to last in my experience (1)

ShadowFalls (991965) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768492)

I dunno, maybe our fortune cookies are just more fortunate? I can pop in an old backup from the days of Windows ME (also known as Meh Edition) and it works just fine. I just tend to have difficulty with ones that are scratched like crazy from the days of unreliable scratchy CD-Rom drives. Perhaps it is more about the general treatment they receive or the weather conditions? Though I do agree with most who say how unreliable floppy disks are. The newer they are, the less reliable they seem to be.

Re:CD-Rs seem to last in my experience (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768536)

I would tend to agree. I can probably count the number of unreadable CD-R's that I have burned since the mid-90's on both hands. However, I don't use generic brands of media and I do not burn the discs at their max rated speed. I would bet that in a number of cases, burning the media at the max rated speed is the culprit. It's widely known at least by those that actually have performed burning tests that discs burned at their highest rated speed are less reliable and have higher error rates just after burning than discs burned at a slower speed. My rule of thumb is to burn the media at half it's max rated speed if it's data. If I'm burning an audio CD with tracks from lossless sources, I will burn at 4x or the slowest speed supported by the hardware. I used to use 2x but it seems the burner manufacturers do not support the 1x and 2x burn speeds anymore in modern drives.

However, CD-RW (and even a few DVR-RW) media are another story. I have had unusable media within a year or two of purchase, some have failed within a few months. And it's not that I'm erasing/rewriting them all that much, many of the failed discs have been rewritten maybe 5-10 times, some have failed after one use. Today, I use RW media only for short term temporary storage. I wouldn't trust them to last nearly as long as R media. I would estimate my failure rate for RW media within 2 years is as high as 20-30%.

Re:CD-Rs seem to last in my experience (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768562)

Like everything else, the earliest CD-Rs were better made than subsequent ones. It's possible those early ones are fine while newer ones are degrading.

Doesn't all of the library of congress (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768402)

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.

What? (1)

Derosian (943622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768416)

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

Amazon S3's TOS (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769472)

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.

300 years... (2, Informative)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:300 years... (4, Funny)

Nkwe (604125) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768504)

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

Take that with a grain of salt, of course.

I would recommend keeping salt and your archival CDs separate.

Re:300 years... (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768930)

But will Memorex still be there in 300 years, to sue them if their claim proved false?

Re:300 years... (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33769594)

At least the data won't be DRM-d so if the cd's DO last 300 years, you'll still be able to use it, regardless of if an activation server still exists or not.

long life media? (1)

ushere (1015833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768516)

what was good enough for the egyptians is good enough for me. heck, the rosetta stone is still readable with present day technology......

Funny... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768550)

I have CD-R's dating from when I bought my first drive, back in 97, if you take care of them, like put them in their cases when done, and in a dark place (like a book shelf, binder, or cd rack)

how are the 2008 elections being lost and yet I still have voodoo 2 drivers and a windows 95 bootleg?

Re:Funny... (1)

roju (193642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768928)

Ihow are the 2008 elections being lost and yet I still have voodoo 2 drivers and a windows 95 bootleg?

Law of large numbers, probably

What about DVD-Rs? (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768552)

What about DVD-Rs? Kept in spindles??

Re:What about DVD-Rs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768724)

I used to use those for bulk storage. They were so unreliable that I used 10% of the disc for par2 recovery files, and then burned each disc twice. I still lost a small fraction of the data when even that was insufficient.

Re:What about DVD-Rs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33769014)

DVD-R's are not suitable for keeping data for any length of time.

I've had them fail within a few weeks to a few months. Never had one that lasted more than two years.

Crappy little buggers, them are!

who cares... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768590)

Only stuff that interests nobody will vanish... everything else will be "out there" for sure... extinction of crappy data might not be a bad thing - who has time to sift through crap anyway...

Also Videogames (1)

devent (1627873) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768628)

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.

Rebooting modern society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768636)

This is why "rebooting" modern society will not be practical, following a world-wide catastrophe.

What do YOU recomend? (1)

DanMelks (1108493) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768730)

The discussion thus far: civvies use CD-R's and businesses use tape.

...HOWEVER...

As a new professional to the field, I am unsure what I should be recommending to my family and friends. CD's and even DVD's aren't bad options, but their size becomes problematic when storing volumes of family photographs and video, in addition to the personal detritus of an online presence: funny photos, music, recipes, chat logs, etc. Tape is noted for its capacity, and longevity under the correct circumstances, but is expensive and susceptible to the same troubles as cassettes. I have also used active hard drives, but have found trying to keep data long-term on a spinning disk is just begging for a head-crash. Flash media is expensive, of limited size, and untested in long-term storage (I have lost most of my data stored on early flash drives).

So, what do I recommend to my family and friends? Should I continue to recommend quality CD's, DVD's, and correct storage procedures? Should I set up a http://blog.backblaze.com/2009/09/01/petabytes-on-a-budget-how-to-build-cheap-cloud-storage/ [backblaze.com] (with a RAID setup) like service for them and be prepared to transfer files to a new system every 7-10 years? What do I do about changing file types?

So recordings from as recently as 9/11 are already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768898)

Recordings from last November are already at risk? They can't be very high quality CD-Rs then as that's less than a year ago.

CD-Rs going bad in under ten years? (1)

diablo-d3 (175104) | more than 3 years ago | (#33768946)

Its only likely to happen if you buy bad media. This is why I wrote this guide [adterrasperaspera.com] so people don't continually blame CDs for their own error. Oh, and its been featured on Slashdot's front page... twice.

Re:CD-Rs going bad in under ten years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33769032)

Yup, and your story has been debunked toroughly each time. Optical media are just plain unreliable.

Archival Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33768960)

There was a discussion on this a few years ago here, and it was quickly determined that 78 rpm Acetate is the way to go for archival media
It's worked for over 80 years for some early phonographs

W00T& FP! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33769128)

hear you. Also, if

What was copyrights promis to the people again ? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33769366)

So we have a copyright which prohibits us to use an artist work for ever longer times, and when that copyright actually expires (when my grand-children are old or even later) we can't use it because it simply "rotted away" ?

Hows that for getting the short end of the deal. My, it almost feels like I'm being ripped off ...

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