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How the Florida Supreme Court Prevents “Link Rot” in URLs Cited in Its Opinions

On Sept. 23, 2013, the New York Times published an article with the headline, “In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere,” by Adam Liptak. The article stated that a recent study had found that 49 percent of the hyperlinks cited in US Supreme Court decisions no longer worked.

The article cited the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as a potential model for other courts. That court maintained an archive of .pdf versions of all websites and documents cited in its opinions, at (These are now available via PACER since Jan. 1, 2016.) The article also . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Sweet Morbidity of Link Rot

A couple years ago, the New Yorker ran a great, comprehensive piece on “link rot”—that scourge of dead-end links and vexing “404” errors that annoys us all and ensures the Web’s enduring reputation as an “ethereal, ephemeral, unstable, and unreliable” ravel of non-sequiturs.

The article charts the curious history of the Wayback Machine—that most indispensible weapon in the fight against link rot—and mentions the “disastrous” effects for lawyers and judges who seek to erect houses of reason on the quicksand of internet sources.

It is all quite topical given the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent move to tackle the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Supreme Court of Canada Tackles Link Rot With New Online Archive

To combat link rot, the Supreme Court of Canada today launched an online archive of Internet Sources Cited in SCC Judgments (1998 – 2016).

Link rot refers to broken URLs or to URLs that direct to the original site but whose corresponding document has been removed or relocated without any information about where to find it.

From the Terms of Use:

“The Office of the Registrar of the SCC, recognizing that web pages or websites that the Court cites in its judgments may subsequently vary in content or be discontinued, has located and archived the content of most

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology: Internet

Link Rot: the Problem Is Getting Bigger, but Solutions Are Being Developed

Wikipedia defines link rot as “the process by which hyperlinks on individual websites or the Internet in general point to web pages, servers or other resources that have become permanently unavailable.” Link rot is common throughout the online world. It is particularly troubling, however, when it occurs in legal materials where researchers seek to find important items that are no longer at the cited URL.

One early project to combat this problem began in 2007. The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group “features government, policy, and legal information archived from the Web through a partnership between state and academic law libraries.” This . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Addressing Link Rot in Canadian Jurisprudence

Reading the latest edition of MIRLN, I was reminded again of the service for addressing link rot in journal articles and judicial decisions. I know the issue has been discussed a couple of times on Slaw. I was wondering what Canadian courts are doing to address the problem of link rot. Is there a Canadian equivalent to Are any Canadian courts using or considering using Is this a service that could one day be provided by CanLII, or are individual courts’ websites being used for this purpose already? . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Technology: Internet

Dealing With Link Rot – Are DOIs the Cure?

Over the past decades the publishing industry has developed standards to provide unique identifiers to text products. The most well known is the ISBN, the International Standard Book Number, which now comprises 13 digits, and ensures the same titles published in different parts of the world can be identified separately. The version used for periodicals is the 8 digit ISSN – International Serial Serial Number. Then there is the International Standard Text Code (ISTC), a numbering system for the unique identification of text-based works, which links different text works within books, audio books, etc. All of these standards ensure . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Stopping Link Rot in Law?

As we’ve discussed a number of times on Slaw, a good many hyperlinks break over time as their targets get moved or taken down. This link rot is particularly challenging in academia and in law, where cited authorities are an important component of one’s argument.

In a 16 page document available on SSRN three weeks ago, “Perma: Scoping and Addressing the Problem of Link and Reference Rot in Legal Citations,” Harvard professors Jonathan Zittrain and Kendra Albert:

. . . document a serious problem of reference rot: more than 70% of the URLs within the Harvard Law Review

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Publishing, Technology: Internet

Link Rot in Court Decisions – Still a Problem

Back in 2009, I did a quick check on link rot in Canadian decisions on CanLII. Today I repeated my quick investigation of link rot in Canadian judicial decisions. To gather decisions with URLs I simply searched for the text “http://” in CanLII. I limited my results for 2012 decisions, and sorted by date.

There were 156 court decisions in 2012 that referenced websites by specific URL. I looked at 10 decisions – all of which were decided between December 19 and 31, 2012. There were 4 broken hyperlinks. One reference was missing the colon in “http://”, and once that . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Information Management

Fifth Annual Link Rot Report of the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group

The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group has just published its 5th annual study of link rot among the original URLs for online law- and policy-related materials it has been archiving since 2007.

“Every year, the Chesapeake Group investigates whether or not the documents in the archive can still be found at the original web addresses from which they were captured. The group analyzes two samples of web addresses, or URLs, pulled from the archive’s records”

“The first sample includes 579 original URLs for content captured from 2007-2008. This sample is revisited every year to document link rot and explore how it

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Chesapeake Project Study on “Link Rot” and Legal Resources on the Web

The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive has just published its 3rd annual study of link rot (see link in the top right of the home page under “Additional Resources”).

Link rot describes “a URL that no longer provides direct access to files matching the content originally harvested from the URL and currently preserved in the Chesapeake Project’s digital archive (…) In some instances, a 404 or ‘not found’ message indicates link rot at a URL; in others, the URL may direct to a site hosted by the original publishing organization or entity, but the specific resource has been removed or . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Technology: Internet

Link Rot in Court Decisions

There is an article available through SSRN that discusses link rot in court decisions by Tina Ching (Reference Librarian, Seattle Univ. Law Library) in The Next Generation of Legal Citations: A Survey of Internet Citations in the Opinions of the Washington Supreme Court and Washington Appellate Courts, 1999-2005 [SSRN], 9 J. App. Prac. & Process 387 (2007).

As more legal research is conducted online, it is reasonable to conclude that there will be a corresponding increase in citations to the Internet by judges in their opinions. With the widespread public use of the Internet to access information along with the

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Link Rot Is Alive and Well

I earlier commented on SLAW on the problem of link rot on the web.

I am updating my “Doing Legal Research in Canada” guide on since I believe I last updated it in 2004 and it is out-of-date (my similar guide on NYU’s Globalex site is more current for now than the guide on

As part of updating the guide, I was struck by the fact that easily more than 50% of the links were broken (and for some topics, it was as high as 90%). All within 3 years or so! And the existing links were . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information: Libraries & Research