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Link Rot and the US Supreme Court 161

necro81 writes "Hyperlinks are not forever. Link rot occurs when a source you've linked to no longer exists — or worse, exists in a different state than when the link was originally made. Even permalinks aren't necessarily permanent if a domain goes silent or switches ownership. According to new research from Harvard Law, some 49% of hyperlinks in Supreme Court documents no longer point to the correct original content. A second study on link rot from Yale stresses that for the Court footnotes, citations, parenthetical asides, and historical context mean as much as the text of an opinion itself, which makes link rot a threat to future scholarship."
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Link Rot and the US Supreme Court

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:35PM (#44926467)

    They should just start linking through the Wayback Machine.

  • by Half-pint HAL ( 718102 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:45PM (#44926573)

    They should just start linking through the Wayback Machine.

    ...which is precisely what I did when I went back to university. I gave all citations with the original URL and an one. I hoped at the uni would pick up on it and recommend it to the other students, but it never happened....

  • by ffflala ( 793437 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:51PM (#44926641)
    For fuck's sake, this is one reason why PURLs exist. The trainwreck that is a constant string of dynamic URLs *printed* out in court opinions is an example of shameful institutional incompetence, regardless of whether it's willful ignorance or just plain ignorance.

    What is required to address this is an official government domain that hosts static screencaptures of web pages, provides PURLs to point to them, and ideally uses a URL-shortening function like goo.go or

    Then, instead of including a long, difficult-to-retype URL in the opinion, the short, easy-to-type PURL appears in the opinion. The supplemental info for the citation includes things like original URL and date accessed, and the given PURL will point to the material in question.

    Opposed to this idea will be copyright owners who fear that court opinions will eliminate their revenues by providing free access to material they usually charge for. Because this kind of opposition is easy to use to score political points (big government! wasting taxpayer dollars!! eminent domain of the little guy's copyrighted material!!!), to make money, getting to this obvious solution will be long delayed. When it is ultimately decided upon, it will be thousands of times more expensive than need be, take three times as long to roll out, will be created using shoddy technology that will break very quickly, and be used as yet another example of government failure.
  • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @02:54PM (#44926697) Homepage Journal
    and ideally uses a URL-shortening function like goo.go or

    WHY? I never click on such links for the elementary fact that I have no idea where they lead
  • by Covalent ( 1001277 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:02PM (#44926775)
    This should be a mission of the Library of Congress - to archive everything ever used by the government (including court cases), be it on the Internet or not.

    While they're at it, they can probably archive nearly everything else.
  • Re:404 Not Found (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Monday September 23, 2013 @03:07PM (#44926841) Homepage Journal

    senile old coot, racist, anti-semite, and all-around waste of oxygen Scalia

    Why wouldn't you just compare him with Hitler (disfavorably) and be done for the day?

  • Re:404 Not Found (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Monday September 23, 2013 @06:12PM (#44928819)
    Each of them has taken an oath and each of them would rather have things go their way than to follow the constitution.

    Take the health care act. The court had to first rule that the congress meant the law to become something they specifically stated that it was not. A tax. Then make it legal that way. They stretched to make it "Constitutional". This is not something that has just happened lately either. The US Supreme court has been doing this type of thing for many, many decades. Once they did the stamp act for Machine Guns they made their statement then. "When we think something is right we will tear away at the constitution to implement it." Agree or disagree with the law itself the US Supreme Court is and has been filled with people who have taken an oath they have non intention of following.

    If it makes you feel better you can write me off as a non thinker who gets his marching orders from Limbaugh, Hannity or Fox News. The truth though is I believe in the greatness of the country as founded. The libs want guns gone. The Pubs want to "protect my right to hunt and protect myself from other people."

    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

    Thomas Jefferson

    That is why you need an AR-15. They are already making information illegal. with information people can make guns and explosives and generally scary things. So they will "protect" us by vetting what information we can and can not have access to. "Just to protect the children and to save us from terrorists." Government is not your mother or your father. Government is not your uncle. Government is a needed service that can (if allowed to become to powerful) be your worst enemy.

    When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

    Again Thomas Jefferson.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982