Combating Link Rot for Legal Writers

RIPS Law Librarian Blog

Much of what we do as librarians revolves around preserving knowledge and making it accessible.  Thus, the growing issue of “link rot” and “reference rot” in legal information is a troublesome problem.  Link rot is the phenomenon of broken links – when the URL provided via a hyperlink no longer functions.  Reference rot is a bit more deceptive; in this situation the hyperlink still works, but the webpage or information provided is no longer that which was originally linked to. In their recent article Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations, Jonathan Zittrain, Kendra Albert, and Lawrence Lessig provide some perspective on just how big the problem is. They found that half of the links provided in Supreme Court opinions and over 70% of links cited to in the Harvard Law Review “do not produce the information originally cited.”  As Zittrain puts it…

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