|Owner||University of Toronto|
|Created by||Gunther Eysenbach|
|Current status||Online, read-only|
WebCite is an on-demand archive site, designed to digitally preserve scientific and educationally important material on the web by making snapshots of Internet contents as they existed at the time when a blogger, or a scholar cited or quoted from it. The preservation service enables verifiability of claims supported by the cited sources even when the original web pages are being revised, removed, or disappear for other reasons, an effect known as link rot.
Sometime between 9 and 17 July 2019, WebCite stopped accepting new archiving requests. As of February 2021, it does not accept new archiving requests, but continues to serve existing archives. As of 19 August 2021, there was a maintenance announcement, and no archived content was accessible; WebCite came back online sometime between then and 8 October 2021.
WebCite is a non-profit consortium supported by publishers and editors,[who?] and it can be used by individuals without charge.[clarification needed] It was one of the first services to offer on-demand archiving of pages, a feature later adopted by many other archiving services, such as archive.today and the Wayback Machine. It does not do web page crawling.
Conceived in 1997 by Gunther Eysenbach, WebCite was publicly described the following year when an article on Internet quality control declared that such a service could also measure the citation impact of web pages. In the next year, a pilot service was set up at the address webcite.net. Although it seemed that the need for WebCite decreased when Google's short term copies of web pages began to be offered by Google Cache and the Internet Archive expanded their crawling (which started in 1996), WebCite was the only one allowing "on-demand" archiving by users. WebCite also offered interfaces to scholarly journals and publishers to automate the archiving of cited links. By 2008, over 200 journals had begun routinely using WebCite.
WebCite used to be, but is no longer, a member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium. In a 2012 message on Twitter, Eysenbach commented that "WebCite has no funding, and IIPC charges €4000 per year in annual membership fees."
WebCite "feeds its content" to other digital preservation projects, including the Internet Archive. Lawrence Lessig, an American academic who writes extensively on copyright and technology, used WebCite in his amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States case of MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd.
WebCite ran a fund-raising campaign using FundRazr from January 2013 with a target of $22,500, a sum which its operators stated was needed to maintain and modernize the service beyond the end of 2013. This includes relocating the service to Amazon EC2 cloud hosting and legal support. As of 2013[update] it remained undecided whether WebCite would continue as a non-profit or as a for-profit entity.
WebCite allows on-demand prospective archiving. It is not crawler-based; pages are only archived if the citing author or publisher requests it. No cached copy will appear in a WebCite search unless the author or another person has specifically cached it beforehand.
To initiate the caching and archiving of a page, an author may use WebCite's "archive" menu option or use a WebCite bookmarklet that will allow web surfers to cache pages just by clicking a button in their bookmarks folder.
One can retrieve or cite archived pages through a transparent format such as
URL is the URL that was archived, and
DATE indicates the caching date. For example,
or the alternate short form
retrieves an archived copy of the URL
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page that is closest to the date of March 4, 2008. The ID (5W56XTY5h) is the UNIX time in base 62.
WebCite does not work for pages which contain a no-cache tag. WebCite respects the author's request to not have their web page cached.
One can archive a page by simply navigating in their browser to a link formatted like this:
Compared to Wayback Machine
Once archived on WebCite, users can try to create an independent second-level backup copy of the starting URL, saving a second time the new WebCite's domain URL on web.archive.org, and on archive.is. Users can more conveniently do this using a browser add-on for archiving.
The term "WebCite" is a registered trademark. WebCite does not charge individual users, journal editors and publishers any fee to use their service. WebCite earns revenue from publishers who want to "have their publications analyzed and cited webreferences archived", and accepts donations. Early support was from the University of Toronto.
WebCite maintains the legal position that its archiving activities are allowed by the copyright doctrines of fair use and implied license. To support the fair use argument, WebCite notes that its archived copies are transformative, socially valuable for academic research, and not harmful to the market value of any copyrighted work. WebCite argues that caching and archiving web pages is not considered a copyright infringement when the archiver offers the copyright owner an opportunity to "opt-out" of the archive system, thus creating an implied license. To that end, WebCite will not archive in violation of Web site "do-not-cache" and "no-archive" metadata, as well as robot exclusion standards, the absence of which creates an "implied license" for web archive services to preserve the content.
In a similar case involving Google's web caching activities, on January 19, 2006, the United States District Court for the District of Nevada agreed with that argument in the case of Field v. Google (CV-S-04-0413-RCJ-LRL), holding that fair use and an "implied license" meant that Google's caching of Web pages did not constitute copyright violation. The "implied license" referred to general Internet standards.
According to their policy, after receiving legitimate DMCA requests from the copyright holders, WebCite removes saved pages from public access, as the archived pages are still under the safe harbor of being citations. The pages are removed to a "dark archive" and in cases of legal controversies or evidence requests there is pay-per-view access of "$200 (up to 5 snapshots) plus $100 for each further 10 snapshots" to the copyrighted content.
Dr. Eysenbach is trying to decide whether Webcite should continue as a non-profit project or a business with revenue streams built into the system.
Membership is currently free