dpc1.jpgBack in January 2004 Brian Lavoie of the OCLC produced a Technology Watch Report for the Digital Preservation Coalition which gives an introduction and commentary on the OAIS model. It’s a useful paper to read as it is always interesting to discover what someone else thinks of OAIS and what are its main aspects and implications. The report is available on the DPC website here.

The points made by Brian which I found most illuminating are:

Intellectual Property Rights. It is not enough to acquire the objects themselves. If the OAIS has to migrate the object to a new format, it must have the explicit right to do so.

Designated Community. The DC lies at the core of the whole digital preservation exercise. “It is the scope of the Designated Community that determines both the contents of the OAIS and the forms in which the contents are preserved, such that they remain available to, and independently understandable by, the Designated Community.” In other words, the DC is not determined by the archive’s holdings, but vice versa.

Brian also points out the difference between Consumers and the DC, a distinction which had passed me by. The contents of an OAIS might be freely available to anyone, but the DC is only that group of individuals possessing sufficent specialised knowledge to use the archived objects without expert assistance. For instance, the DC for a financial organisation might be financial professionals. The Representation Information needs to be geared towards them, even if the same info can be viewed by the general public. If you actually define the DC as the general public then your RI needs to become much larger and more comprehensive.

Archival storage. Neither Producers nor Consumers directly access the AIPs, or have any form of direct contact with the Archival Storage entity.

The meaning of “OAIS-compliant.” Brian says this is actually a very vague term, and might only mean that a digital repository’s architecture and data model can be mapped across to OAIS in some way. Organisations sometimes claim OAIS compliance without clarifying what they actually mean.