Capturing and Replaying Streaming Media in a Web Archive – British Library Case Study

This article was written for and accepted by iPRES 2010, which took place on September 19 – 24, 2010 in Vienna, Austria. It details how the British Library web archiving team met the challenges of archiving sculptor Antony Gormeley’s 2009 public arts project website,, which is now the only surviving online record of this live art work.

It is slightly sad to realise that:

  1. Despite the work being carried out in 2010, the way of archiving streaming media has not progressed much and it remains a challenge. I am not aware of any quantum leaps which make doing it easier or scale up.
  2. My co-authors have all left the British Library.

Helen Hockx-Yu,  Lewis Crawford,  Roger Coram,  Stephen Johnson


A prerequisite for digital preservation is to be able to capture and retain the content which is considered worth preserving. This has been a significant challenge for web archiving, especially for websites with embedded streaming media content, which cannot be copied via a simple HTTP request to a URL. This paper describes the approach taken by the British Library in capturing and replaying streaming media in a web archive. A working system is now in place which will lead to the development of more generic tools and workflows, contributing to addressing a common challenge for the web archiving community. The British Library recently archived a large scale public arts project website,, which contains 2,400 hours of flash videos, streamed over Real Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP). The case study also presents an overview of the nontechnical issues relevant to archiving this high-profile website.




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