New Consortium Developed To Stop Legal Citation "Link Rot"

Law texts that include online citations are less effective if the Web sites they link to no longer exist. That's why over 20 law schools are getting together to create Perma CC, a site that will preserve those links forever.

What's the Latest Development?

More than 20 law libraries from around the world have come together to address the growing problem of "link rot" in legal source material. The consortium plans to develop a site, Perma CC, that will allow authors and publishers to enter URLs for permanent archival on site servers and mirror sites around the world. Harvard Library Innovation Lab co-director Kim Dulin says, "In the past we’ve acquired and made available print sources authors and publishers cited, so it seems logical that we also do that for internet sources."

What's the Big Idea?

The number of online citations in legal material has increased dramatically in the last two decades. Unfortunately, says Dulin, if citations link to sites that have been altered or deleted "and later the lawyer or another court sees no support for the proposition, it diminishes the authenticity of the court’s decision." Even the US Supreme Court isn't immune: 49 percent of online citations in their decisions no longer work. The problem isn't limited to legal texts, either. Some of the most distinguished research journals in their respective fields, such as The Journal of the American Medical Association, suffer from link rot.

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