In recent months we’ve been asking this question more and more: does link rot matter to lawyers?
One context where it matters – or should matter – is in court, when lawyers routinely cite web pages in their briefs, complaints or other filings.
Here’s one example: a Complaint filed by lawyers for the Freedom of the Press Foundation against DOJ, CIA, NSA and other federal agencies for access to records concerning government surveillance of members of the news media. This Complaint cites several web pages that could disappear, change or break while the case is pending or at any time in the future. Fortunately the lawyers included Perma.cc links for each of the cited web sources, such as this one, a DOJ press release: https://perma.cc/NQQ8-82F2.
Here’s another example: a brief filed two weeks ago with the U.S. Supreme Court in Weyerhauser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This document also cites to several ephemeral online sources. These lawyers also included Perma.cc links pointing to preserved versions of the cited source. No matter what happens to the original source, the Perma.cc links will point future readers – such as Supreme Court justices and their clerks – to a stable record.
Lawyers no doubt want their citations to be accurate, reliable and helpful. When citing web pages, that means using web archiving tools to prevent link rot.
Perma.cc currently is free for lawyers to use to preserve up to 10 links per month. We offer paid subscriptions for higher volume use. You can sign up at https://perma.cc or reach out to us at info at perma.cc to learn more.