The most recent episode of the CBC Radio show Spark
includes an interview with Harvard Law School researcher Kendra Albert who co-authored an article about link rot in US Supreme Court decisions
The article Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations
appeared a few weeks ago on the site of the Social Science Research Network.
Link rot refers to broken URLs or to URLs that direct to a site hosted by the original publishing organization but whose corresponding document has been removed or relocated without any information about where to find it.
In the case of the URLs in US Supreme Court decisions, the authors found a link rot rate of 50%.
researchers checked URLs in Supreme Court of Canada decisions and found many broken links to texts from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Law Society of Alberta and the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, among others.
One of the proposed solutions is something called perma.cc
launched by a collective of law libraries, most from the US, including the Harvard Law School Library:
"Perma.cc is a service, currently in beta, that allows users to create citation links that will never break."
"When a user creates a Perma.cc link, Perma.cc archives a copy of the referenced content, and generates a link to an unalterable hosted instance of the site. Regardless of what may happen to the original source, if the link is later published by a journal using the Perma.cc service, the archived version will always be available through the Perma.cc link."
Labels: courts, Internet, legal research and writing