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The ECHO DEPository project is a digital preservation research and development project funded by the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) and administered by the Library of Congress. A key goal of this project is to investigate both practical solutions for supporting digital preservation activities today, and the more fundamental research questions underlying the development of the next generation of digital preservation systems. To support on-the-ground preservation efforts in existing technical and organizational environments, we have developed tools to help curators collect and manage Web-based digital resources, such as the Web Archives Workbench (Kaczmarek et al., 2008), and to enhance existing repositories' support for interoperability and emerging preservation standards, such as the Hub and Spoke Tool Suite (Habing et al., 2008). In the longer term, however, we recognize that successful digital preservation activities will require a more precise and complete account of the meaning of relationships within and among digital objects. This article describes project efforts to identify the core underlying semantic issues affecting long-term digital preservation, and to model how semantic inference may help next-generation archives head off long-term preservation risks.