The Internet Archive Way Machine can be an incredible resource. But it can also be bad for your publication. For several reasons. One being that they’re literally copying your content without your permission. That’s reason enough to not want to be included. But the novelty of being in the Internet Archive meant that I honestly didn’t really care. It was fun to see old versions of my website that I remember from the ‘good ‘ol days.’
When your site has been around for 14 years, it’s changed a lot!
However, recently I had my websites removed from the Internet Archive. The main reason? It’s evidence. Evidence that can be used against you. There are bots patrolling the internet looking for usage of content – whether it’s images, videos, or audio. And even if you’ve legitimately licensed something, that doesn’t stop these bots and the lawyers they employ to patrol ownership of content.
Even if you delete something, a record of it exists in the Internet Archive forever. After being at the receiving end of several legal threats related to content we’d removed years ago, I decided that the novelty of being in the Internet Archive had worn off.
So, I looked into how to get it removed.
It turns out, the process is rather straightforward. You don’t need to file a DMCA notice or anything (but you can if you want to go nuclear). Blocking their bots doesn’t help. It will just stop them from crawling further if they even follow what a robots.txt file says.
All you need to do is ask.
Simply write an email from the domain you use for the website to firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them nicely to remove your website. This opens a ticket in their system, and they will respond to you, usually within a day, with instructions on how to do so. You will have to provide several bits of evidence that you’re the actual website owner.
I had to put pages on the websites, that only they could see indicating I had ownership rights. I had to provide a photo ID and also proof from my domain registrar and hosting service that I, indeed, owned my websites. It took five minutes to gather the info. Within a day, they’d responded and removed my websites from the archive. When I checked, sure enough, they were gone.
So, hats off to the Internet Archive for making the process smooth and relatively painless.