Intellectual Property Rights Issues for Software Emulation | The Signal: Digital Preservation

Software emulation is an important tool for preservation of digital artworks because it allows researchers to experience complex digital materials in their native creation environments, and can thereby enable full access to “software dependent content,” the term offered by Euan Cochrane, Digital Preservation Manager at Yale University, for content that is integral to the overall meaning of a work, but which “requires a particular and limited range of software environments in order to be interacted with, rendered, viewed or consumed.”

The EaaS framework provides a streamlined user experience for accessing a number of different emulated software environments, and the AMIA panel provided an opportunity to examine this approach alongside other recent projects using software emulation, including computer games within the Timothy Leary Papers that are available to play at the New York Public Library Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room, Cornell University Library’s Preservation and Access Frameworks for Digital Art Objects project (PAFDAO), and the Jeremy Blake Papers at New York University. In my workshop presentation I discussed Rhizome’s collaborative development with bwFLA of a cloud-based EaaS implementation allowing users to access artworks via Rhizome’s emulator site, which can also be embedded into other websites such as blogs and social media sites. Since April 2015, Rhizome’s online EaaS implementation has allowed visitors to immerse themselves in the interactive narratives and richly detailed audio and graphics of three video games/artworks created as CD-ROMs in the 1990s by the artist Theresa Duncan.