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The British Library begins to document our digital lives

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By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

April 6, 2013 | 2 min read

The British Library has begun the process of harvesting digital content as part of an £3 million initiative to document UK history and culture.

Changes to copyright law, which came into force today, Saturday 6 April, have meant that billions of websites, tweets, Facebook profiles and e-books from the UK domain can now be stored, with the aim of allowing the public access for research purposes.

Speaking on the project, Lucie Burgess, the project lead, said: ''If you want a picture of what life is like today in the UK you have to look at the web, We have already lost a lot of material, particularly around events such as the 7/7 London bombings or the 2008 financial crisis.

''That material has fallen into the digital black hole of the 21st century because we haven't been able to capture it. Most of that material has already been lost or taken down. The social media reaction has gone.''

Meanwhile, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: ''Legal deposit arrangements remain vitally important. Preserving and maintaining a record of everything that has been published provides a priceless resource for the researchers of today and the future."

''So it's right that these long-standing arrangements have now been brought up to date for the 21st century, covering the UK's digital publications for the first time.''

Other institutions involved in the project include the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.

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