Link rot no more

A few entries ago, summarizing the First Circuit Judicial Conference, we noted how a Harvard librarian explained how attempts were being made to address “link rot” – when opinions cite to a website, and later, that cite disappears (and if not gone, you don’t know if the site has been changed since the opinion was issued/the Court examined it).  The U.S. Supreme Court has a shocking number of decisions with such cites.  See  [We’ll see how long these hyperlinks survive].  On October 24, 2017, the First Circuit decided to make public the linked items cited in its opinions.

The Court noted that since 2011, its library has been capturing any web page cited in a First Circuit opinion, converting it into a pdf and archiving it in a website repository.  As of Nov. 1, 2017, that repository has now been made public.  Additionally, after that date, the pdf is going to appear after the opinion on PACER.  So you get a screen shot of presumably what the judges were looking at when they made their decision.

Here’s what the Supreme Court is doing on that front, in a new website launched in July:  It’s a step in the right direction, but by no means complete.

The Maine SJC has yet to tackle this issue, but it doesn’t appear to cite web sites very often. Jonathan Zittrain, the librarian, noted how Harvard and others were creating, a service that allows authros to submit their links to the service for archiving – they do the taking of the screenshots and keeping them stored.

Some courts are using this service, like Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan and Maryland. It’s free, so maybe Maine will go this route too.