Wayback Machine

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Wayback Machine
Web address https://archive.org/web/
Type of site Archive
Registration Optional
Written in C, Perl
Owner Internet Archive
Launched 24 October 2001
Current status Active

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive launched in October 2001 by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organisation based in San Francisco, California, United States.[1][2]  It is an archive of the World Wide Web as well as other information on the Internet, and was named after the "WABAC machine," a time machine from the animated cartoon series, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.[3][4]


The Wayback Machine, which is maintained with content from Alexa Internet, was originally set up by Bruce Gilliat and Brewster Kahle.[5]  They have been archiving cached web pages since 1996, revisiting sites every few weeks or months to archive a newer versions.  Visitors, since October 2013, have been able to use a "Save a Page" link to archive sites of interest to them.[6]

In 2005, Yahoo! Search began providing links directly to Wayback Machine's web page archive.[7]


The Wayback Machine can be used to access content that is no longer available on the World Wide Web.[8]  For example, in the early years of the third millennium C. E., a news website called Free Market News Network published articles and videos online.  The site involved such respected individuals as Harry Browne, Tibor R. Machan, and Thomas Knapp.[9]  Although its website, FreeMarketNews.com, is no longer available on the World Wide Web, one can see, by way of the Wayback Machine, what the site looked like and who contributed material.  For example, those wishing to see a snapshot of Free Market New Network's site at it appeared 28 May 2005 can see it at https://web.archive.org/web/20050528234950/http://www.freemarketnews.com/portfolio/index.php.

On 14 July 2004, Jeffrey A. Tucker utilised the Wayback Machine to illustrate the evolution of Mises.org over the eight years the site had been around.[8]

On 25 March 2005, Jesse Walker used the Wayback Machine to expose some of the many goofy items that had appeared on the website of the joke party calling itself the "Libertarian National Socialist Green Party."[10]

Jesse Walker again used the Wayback Machine, this time a year later on March 17th, to make available the only piece he had ever written for National Review, a piece which had, at that time, ceased being available online.[11]

Following the slashing of the U. S. Libertarian Party's national platform in 2006, Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. posted an article on his website in which he wrote,

For those who haven’t heard, the large, pedagogically useful, principled, and detailed Libertarian Platform — the best thing about the party — has been relegated to the wayback machine, and is now replaced with a new one, which is tiny, vague, rhetorically slippery, accommodating, friendlier to the state, and non-threatening to mainstream opinion.[12]

On 26 August 2007, N. Stephan Kinsella used the Wayback Machine in order to share with readers of the Mises.org Weblog a free e-text version of Scott Ryan's Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality: A Critique of Ayn Rand's Epistemology, a work that was no longer available online as Ryan's site had "been shut down for a couple years" at that point.[13]

On 6 September 2011, Nick Gillespie used the Wayback Machine to illustrate what Reason.com looked like a decade earlier, back when it was known as Reason Online.[14]

In January, 2013, Wendy McElroy used the Wayback Machine to demonstrate "how broad and dangerous the definition of 'terrorist' has become," linking in an article to a page that she observed was embarrassing to the government.[15]

In a 25 May 2013 open letter to Paul Krugman from Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff of Harvard University, the writers use the Wayback Machine to cite a debt/GDP database from Reinhart's own University of Maryland webpage.[16]  Scott Sumner described this as "the most devastating demolition of the arguments of an esteemed (but rude) economist that [he]’d ever read."[17]

In September, 2014, Brian Seasholes used the Wayback Machine to expose claims made by the the government in 2004 about bald eagles.[18]

In December, 2015, Jonathan Finegold used the Wayback Machine to retrieve an old post he had written that had been lost to him when his blog, Economic Thought, was hacked in 2011.[19]

On 26 August 2016, David Codrea used the Wayback Machine in order to link to various articles from the now-discontinued Examiner.com site in an article on opponents of the gun rights.[20]

Legal history

The Wayback Machine has been used in, and party to, various legal suits since its inception, many of which deal directly with matters concerning "intellectual property."

In Telewizja Polska USA, Inc. v. Echostar Satellite, a case from October 2004, a litigant, EchoStar, attempted to use snapshots from the Wayback Machine as proof of the past content of Telewizja Polska's web site.  This is perhaps the first time data collected by the Wayback Machine was attempted to be used as evidence, and Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys rejected Telewizja Polska's motion in limine to exclude the evidence at trial.[21][22]  District Court Judge Ronald Guzman, however, overruled Magistrate Keys's findings and held that the Telewizja Polska website was not admissible as evidence.[citation needed]

(According to Larry Donahue, there are technical limitations to web archiving that can, in certain situations, play a role in determining how useful web archives are in litigation.[23])

The United States' and the European patent offices will, as long as certain other requirements are met, accept Internet Archive date stamps as evidence that a given web page was publicly accessible in order to determine whether the content constitutes "prior art."[24]  Yet, coincidentally, Martin Bahr suggests that the Wayback Machine could be interpreted as violating European copyright laws, as all persons, other than creators of content, are prohibited by governments from deciding where said content may be published or duplicated.[25]

Various sites criticising Scientology were removed from the Wayback Machine in late 2002.[26]  The Internet Archive later clarified that the content was removed in response to demands from lawyers for the Church of Scientology.[27][28]  Lisa M. Bowman writes,

Scientologists have taken a notoriously heavy-handed approach to squelching critical Web sites, pressuring site operators, ISPs (Internet service providers), and even Internet heavyweights such as Google into removing links to Web pages.

Most often, Scientology lawyers claim copyrights on materials excerpted from their site, material they are fiercely protective of because members must pay to access it. Many site operators who receive such threatening letters immediately remove the material without questioning whether the pages actually violate copyrights.[26]

In 2003, attorneys used the Wayback Machine to defend their client by accessing content from the website of the plaintiff, Healthcare Advocates.  In 2005, Healthcare Advocates sued the Internet Archive, claiming the latter infringed upon the former's copyright and violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.[29]  Attorneys for Healthcare Advocates claimed that, since their client had installed a robots.txt file on their site, the Internet Archive ought to have removed all copies of the plaintiff's website from the Wayback Machine—even though it was installed after the initial lawsuit was filed[30]  The lawsuit was settled out of court.[31]

In December 2005, activist Suzanne Shell filed a suit against Internet Archive for archiving her website, profane-justice.org, between 1999 and 2004, demanding that Internet Archive pay her $100,000 USD in damages.[32][33]  On 20 January 2006, seeking a judicial determination that they had not violated Shell's copyright, Internet Archive filed a declaratory judgment action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  To this, Shell responded, bringing forth a countersuit against Internet Archive.[34]  A judge for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado dismissed all counterclaims on 13 February 2007, save for breach of contract.[33]  Copyright infringement claims were also to go forward, as the Internet Archive did not move to have them dismissed.[35]  On 25 April 2007, Internet Archive and Suzanne Shell announced jointly that they had settled the suit,[32] with the former saying, "We recognize that Ms. Shell has a valid and enforceable copyright in her Web site and we regret that the inclusion of her Web site in the Wayback Machine resulted in this litigation," and the latter claiming she respected the "historical value of Internet Archive's goal" and that she "never intended to interfere with that goal nor cause it any harm."[36]

In a case from 2009, Netbula, LLC v. Chordiant Software Inc., Chordiant, the defendant, filed a motion to compel Netbula to disable the robots.txt file on its website that was preventing the Wayback Machine from providing access to archives of Netbula's site; Chordiant believed these pages would support its case.[37]  Although Netbula objected to the motion,[38]  Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd in the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, rejected Netbula's arguments; Netbula was ordered to temporarily disable the robots.txt blockage, thus allowing Chordiant to obtain the archived pages it sought.[37]

In 2013–14, a pornographic actor named Daniel Davydiuk attempted, first by sending DMCA requests to the Archive and then in the Federal Court of Canada, to remove archived images of himself.[39][40]


  1. "Internet Archive launches WayBack Machine". Online Burma Library. 25 October 2001. http://www.burmalibrary.org/reg.burma/archives/200110/msg00079.html. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  2. "The Internet Archive: Building an ‘Internet Library’". Internet Archive. 30 November 2001. Archived from the original on 30 November 2001. https://web.archive.org/web/20011130142035/http://archive.org/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  3. Green, Heather (28 February 2002). "A Library as Big as the World". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  4. Tong, Judy (September 8, 2002). "RESPONSIBLE PARTY – BREWSTER KAHLE; A Library Of the Web, On the Web". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 January 2003. 
  5. Kahle, Brewster (4 November 1996). "Archiving the Internet". Submitted to Scientific American for its March 1997 issue. http://www.uibk.ac.at/voeb/texte/kahle.html. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  6. Rossi, Alexis (25 October 2013). "Fixing Broken Links on the Internet". San Francisco, CA: Internet Archive Blogs. https://blog.archive.org/2013/10/25/fixing-broken-links/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  7. Price, Gary (18 September 2005). "Yahoo Cache Now Offers Direct Links to Wayback Machine". Search Engine Watch. http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2061079/Yahoo-Cache-Now-Offers-Direct-Links-to-Wayback-Machine. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Crews, Clyde Wayne, Jr. (4 May 2004). "Freedom to Choose Google's "Gmail"". Washington, D. C.: Cato Institute. http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/freedom-choose-googles-gmail. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  9. Archived May 28, 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  10. Walker, Jesse (25 March 2005). "Esoteric Fringe Group or Esoteric Joke? — Part 2". Hit & Run Blog. Los Angeles, CA: Reason. https://reason.com/blog/2005/03/25/esoteric-fringe-group-or-esote. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  11. Walker, Jesse (17 March 2006). "Replacing Gale Norton". Hit & Run Blog. Los Angeles, CA: Reason. https://reason.com/blog/2006/03/17/replacing-gale-norton. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  12. Rockwell, Llewellyn H., Jr. (5 September 2006). "The LP's Turkish Delight". LewRockwell.com. https://www.lewrockwell.com/2006/09/lew-rockwell/the-lps-turkish-delight/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  13. Kinsella, N. Stephan (26 August 2007). "Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality". Mises.org Weblog. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute. https://mises.org/blog/objectivism-and-corruption-rationality. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  14. Gillespie, Nick (6 September 2011). "Remembering 9/11: What We Wrote When the Attacks Happened". Hit & Run Blog. Los Angeles, CA: Reason. http://reason.com/blog/2011/09/06/remembering-911-what-we-wrote. Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  15. McElroy, Wendy (31 January 2013). "'Terrorism' and Lexical Warfare". Fairfax, VA: Future of Freedom Foundation. http://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/terrorism-and-lexical-warfare/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  16. Reinhart, Carmen M.; Rogoff, Kenneth S. (25 May 2013). "Letter to PK". Cambridge, MA: CarmenReinhart.com. http://www.carmenreinhart.com/letter-to-pk/. 
  17. Sumner, Scott (26 May 2013). "Rogoff and Reinhart on Krugman". TheMoneyIllusion. http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=21360. 
  18. Seasholes, Brian (11 September 2014). "The Still-Problematic State of the Birds 2014 Report: Giving the Endangered Species Act Sole Credit for the Bald Eagleâ??s Recovery". Los Angeles, CA: Reason Foundation. http://reason.org/blog/show/the-still-problematic-state-of-the. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  19. Finegold, Jonathan (23 October 2015). "The Theory of Free Banking". Economic Thought. http://www.economicthought.net/blog/2015/10/the-theory-of-free-banking/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  20. Codrea, David (26 August 2016). "Mexico Repeats Call for U.S. Gun Ban while Ignoring the Obvious". Ammoland Shooting Sports News. http://www.ammoland.com/2016/08/mexico-repeats-call-u-s-gun-ban-ignoring-obvious/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  21. Gelman, Lauren (17 November 2004). "Internet Archive's Web Page Snapshots Held Admissible as Evidence". Packets (Center for Internet and Society) 2 (3). http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/packets002728.shtml. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  22. Howell, Beryl A. (February 2006). "Proving Web History: How to use the Internet Archive" (PDF). Journal of Internet Law: 3–9. http://www.strozfriedberg.com/files/Publication/fee98a34-d739-478b-a7db-6af37b757714/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/aae88469-9835-4fe4-ae5f-38637924314f/BAHPROVINGWEBHISTORY.pdf. Retrieved 26 August 2008. 
  23. Donahue, Larry. "Debunking the Wayback Machine". Practice.com. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. https://web.archive.org/web/20090131064253/http://www.practice.com/2008/12/29/debunking-the-wayback-machine/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  24. Coggins, Wynn W. (Fall 2002). "Prior Art in the Field of Business Method Patents – When is an Electronic Document a Printed Publication for Prior Art Purposes?". Presented at AIPLA. United States Patent and Trademark Office. http://www.uspto.gov/patents-getting-started/patent-basics/types-patent-applications/utility-patent/business-methods-17. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  25. Bahr, Martin (14 January 2002). "The Wayback Machine und Google Cache - eine Verletzung deutschen Urheberrechts?". Internet-Zeitschrift für Rechtsinformatik und Informationsrecht. http://www.jurpc.de/jurpc/show?id=20020029. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 Bowman, Lisa M. (25 September 2002). "Net archive silences Scientology critic". CNET News. https://www.cnet.com/news/net-archive-silences-scientology-critic/. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  27. Thread initiated by Jeff (23 September 2002). "exclusions from the Wayback Machine" (Blog). Internet Archive Forums. Internet Archive. https://archive.org/post/778/exclusions-from-the-wayback-machine. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  28. Miller, Ernest. "Sherman, Set the Wayback Machine for Scientology" (Blog). LawMeme. Yale Law School. http://lawmeme.research.yale.edu/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=350. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  29. Zeller, Jr., Tom (13 July 2005). "Keeper of Expired Web Pages Is Sued Because Archive Was Used in Another Suit". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/13/technology/keeper-of-expired-web-pages-is-sued-because-archive-was-used-in.html. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 
  30. Dye, Jessica (2005). "Website Sued for Controversial Trip into Internet Past". EContent. 28 11: 8–9. 
  31. Bangeman, Eric (31 August 2006). "Internet Archive Settles Suit Over Wayback Machine". http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2006/08/7634/. 
  32. 32.0 32.1 Internet Archive v. Shell, 505 F.Supp.2d 755 at justia.com, 1:2006cv01726 (Colorado District Court 31 August 2006).
  33. 33.0 33.1 Babcock, Lewis T., Chief Judge (13 February 2007). "Internet Archive v. Shell Civil Action No. 06cv01726LTBCBS" (PDF). http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/waybackshell.pdf. 
  34. Claburn, Thomas (16 March 2007). "Colorado Woman Sues To Hold Web Crawlers To Contracts". New York, N. Y.: InformationWeek. http://www.informationweek.com/colorado-woman-sues-to-hold-web-crawlers-to-contracts/d/d-id/1053075. 
  35. Samson, Martin H. (2007). "Internet Archive v. Suzanne Shell". Internet Library of Law and Court Decisions. http://www.internetlibrary.com/cases/lib_case456.cfm. 
  36. brewster (25 April 2007). "Internet Archive and Suzanne Shell Settle Lawsuit". Denver, CO: Internet Archive. https://archive.org/post/119669/lawsuit-settled. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 LLoyd, Howard (October 2009). "Order to Disable Robots.txt" (PDF). http://www.american-justice.org/upload/page/123/69/docket-187-order-on-IA-motion.pdf. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  38. Cortes, Antonio (October 2009). "Motion Opposing Removal of Robots.txt". http://www.american-justice.org/index.cgi/Page/116/OPPOSITION-TO-MOTION-TO-COMPEL-REMOVAL-OF-ROBOT-TXT-FILE-FROM-WEBSITE/. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  39. Davydiuk v. Internet Archive Canada, 2014 FC 944 (CanLII)  (6 October 2014). Text
  40. Stobbe, Richard (5 December 2014). "Canada: Copyright Implications Of A "Right To Be Forgotten"? Or How To Take-Down The Internet Archive.". http://www.mondaq.com/canada/x/358282/Trade+Secrets/Copyright+Implications+of+a+Right+to+be+Forgotten+Or+How+to+TakeDown+the+Internet+Archive. Retrieved 3 October 2016. 

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