Feature Update: Batch Link Creation

This week we are excited to announce the release of a long awaited Perma.cc feature: Batch Link Creation! Now, you can prevent link rot and citation drift en masse.

Before, your links were stowed away safely to be preserved for future use, but only one at a time. Now, you can create multiple Perma Links for your article, book, or briefing in one easy step. When you visit Perma.cc, select “Create Multiple Links” before you start.

Then simply collect the urls of the sites you want to capture and copy / paste them into the new upload portal:

The batch of Perma Links will be created and added to the folder of your choice, where you can treat them as individual records.

Here’s a good tip: if you use a citation creation tool like Zotero, you can export your chosen links into a .csv file (instructions here) and simply copy, paste, and preserve.

This feature is available to all Perma account holders but beware free account holders, those ten links per month might go faster than you were expecting. If you’re interested in learning more about our membership options for more frequent users give us a shout at  info at perma.cc.

We’re always working to improve Perma. If you’re curious, all of our code is open source and available on Github and we have an API for developers.

Perma.cc at CALICon2018!

I was fortunate to present on Perma.cc at this year’s CALICon conference – “Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction” conference – at American University.

image via Wikipedia

The session was well-attended and with an hour to present I was able to touch on a few different areas:

  • The what-and-why of Perma.cc, how it works and how its archives are stored
  • Current stats and growth: ~750,000 Perma records created, ~22,000 user accounts and ~225 institutions, and a number of references to Perma.cc in cases and law review articles in Westlaw
  • The in-roads we’re making to academic libraries and commercial users, and the challenges we’re finding in getting them onboard
  • What’s coming for Perma.cc: batch-link creation (which got an excited response!), Webrecorder code integration, and in an effort to make adoption at academic libraries easier, a new institutional account type that doesn’t require the user to be added to an organization: non-org institutional accounts.

Fantastic feedback and questions from the librarians, technologists and faculty members who attended the talk. Thanks to all!

Release Notes – Perma v0.159

Today we released a small set of improvements to Perma:

  • Upgraded Django version to 1.11.13
  • Removed Opbeat, which is shutting down and no longer needed

If you’re interested in learning more, all of our code is open source and available on Github and we have an API for developers.

Web archiving and CNN – frenemies?

As you may have read elsewhere, CNN pages are notoriously difficult to archive. Our developers will attest to the complexity of CNN web pages and the impact that can have on speed and fidelity of capture. Often, whenever folks using Perma.cc report trouble preserving a page, one of our first questions is “Is it CNN?”

But CNN’s not all trouble, it turns out. Recently we discovered a Perma.cc link embedded in — of all places – a CNN.com article that cites an American Medical Association press release: https://perma.cc/CNE4-FEQ9.

Great to see that CNN appreciates a good web archive!

 

Using Perma.cc in Court Filings: Two Quick Examples

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.

The Chicago Manual of Style, now with Perma.cc!

The 17th Edition of The Chicago Manual of Style is now available, and features Perma.cc in its recommendations.  Chapter 14 section 15, regarding sources consulted online, states:

“…authors are strongly encouraged to keep a copy of any source that is not formally published, as a hedge against potential challenges to the research or data before, during, or after publication. […] Copies may be kept in the form of printouts or as digital files (e.g., as PDFs or screen captures), or by means of a permanent link creation service such as Perma.cc.”

 

Our appreciation to the editors of The Chicago Manual of Style for including Perma.cc as the suggested tool for preserving internet sources. Learn more about Perma.cc, or sign up here!

AALL partners with Perma.cc

We’re excited to announce a new partnership with AALL, who be using Perma.cc to preserve the links used in their Law Library Journal and other publications. See their press release, below!

March 27, 2018 The American Association of Law Libraries’ (AALL) today announces the organization is partnering with Perma.cc to ensure AALL publications will remain complete and maintain their longevity for the benefit of its more than 4,500 members and those served by their legal information expertise. Perma.cc is a service that helps scholars, courts, and others create citation links that will never break by making a copy of the referenced content and generating a permanent link to an archived record of the page.

“Our primary goal as law librarians is providing access to legal information,” noted AALL President Greg Lambert. “It is critical that the resources we create are produced with strong preservation principles to ensure they are accessible to members, the public, and institutions that rely on them. Our partnership with Perma.cc will help us uphold this important responsibility.”

The partnership with Perma.cc will ensure the reliability of the links used in AALL’s Law Library Journal and other association publications, reinforcing AALL’s commitment to preserving legal information.

Perma.cc was developed at the Harvard Law School Library as a tool to fight link rot and content drift. Research has demonstrated the extent that citations have been affected across the web. For example, a study detailed in the Harvard Law Review revealed that over 50 percent of cited links in Supreme Court opinions and 70 percent of URLs from legal journals cited a reference that was inaccessible.

“We’re particularly proud of our members’ dedication and knowledge in launching Perma.cc, among them member Adam Ziegler, who serves as Perma.cc’s managing director as well as former Harvard Law School Library Innovation Lab Director Kim Dulin,” noted Lambert.

Perma.cc is free to use for those at academic institutions, courts, libraries, and other non-profit institutions and boasts over 20,000 users. Additionally, Perma.cc is now offering its services to law firms and other commercial organizations.

About AALL

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is the only national association dedicated to the legal information profession and its professionals. Founded in 1906 on the belief that people—lawyers, judges, students, and the public—need timely access to relevant legal information to make sound legal arguments and wise legal decisions, its nearly 4,500 members are problem solvers of the highest order. AALL fosters the profession by offering its members knowledge, leadership, and community that make the whole legal system stronger. For more information, visit www.aallnet.org.

About Perma.cc

When a user creates a Perma.cc link, Perma.cc archives the referenced content and generates a link to an archived record of the page. Regardless of what may happen to the original source, the archived record will always be available through the Perma.cc link. Perma.cc is developed and maintained by the Harvard Law School Library in conjunction with university law libraries across the country and other organizations in the “forever” business.

How the Harvard National Security Journal Uses the Perma.cc API

Guest post from Harvard Law J.D. student Aaron Marks:

As the Online Editor for the Harvard National Security Journal, I am the go-to person for many of the Journal’s technical questions.  This semester I was able to put my technical skills to use by implementing a new tool that uses the Perma API.  The National Security Journal’s fall issue (out now!) contains several hundred weblinks.  We wanted to use Perma so that the content at those links would be permanently accessible.  But we did not want to manually create Perma archives for hundreds of URLs, which could take some time.

On a hunch, I suspected that Perma might have an API that would enable us to programmatically generate these links.  It turned out that not only did Perma have an API, but it was surprisingly simple to setup and use.  In just a few hours, I wrote a Ruby application that could import a spreadsheet of URLs, generate Perma archives for those URLs, and output a new spreadsheet that includes the URLs for each new Perma archive. 

In addition to programming with the Perma API, the experience let me interact with the Perma support team.  This happened when I discovered a bug: on creating a new Perma archive, our custom archive title would revert, after a few seconds, back to the default title that Perma generates when a custom title is not submitted.  Luckily the Perma support team was quite responsive after I reported the bug.  In fact, they resolved the problem before the Journal published our latest issue.

Although I was a software engineer before coming to law school, I have not coded much in the past three years and so my programming skills were somewhat rusty.  Happily, the API was very user-friendly and easily enabled our Journal to programmatically generate Perma archives.  I would recommend trying the Perma API to integrate Perma archives into your publication, website, software application, or anything else that links to web-content that you want to be preserved.

PS – Special thanks to Brett and Rebecca from Perma who helped fix the bug that I discovered!

Aaron Marks is a third-year J.D. student at Harvard Law School.  He is currently the Online Editor of the Harvard National Security Journal.

 

 

Link Rot for Lawyers: a Prodigious Problem

Link rot is already known to be a large – and growing – issue in  *court opinions*, *legal scholarship* and in many *other forms of scholarship*. With Perma.cc, we’re helping courts and scholars prevent link rot in their work.

But lately we’ve seen a surge in Perma.cc usage among law firms: in the past two years, Perma.cc links have been included in over 600 cases in both state and federal court.  And we’ve heard from many law firms interested in understanding how link rot affects them and how they might use Perma to tackle the problem (*newly available* to law firms and other commercial entities!).

Which led us to ask: is link rot a problem for law firms? In a nutshell, the answer is yes, link rot is a significant problem for law firms, particularly in court filings and marketing materials.

Link Rot in Court Filings

As the quantity and availability of online resources increase, linked citations to these materials has expanded across a wide variety of fields, including the court filings made by lawyers.  These citations are key to the documents they are included in, providing vital supporting information for the arguments being made and even replacing many print resources.  But the evolving nature of the internet means these sources do not retain the stability of printed material and will change over time.

Broken links in court filings not only no longer support the argument or position they originally did, but also frustrate courts trying to interact with them as the information they need no longer exists.

To get a sense of the scope of the problem, we recently conducted a quick review of court filings made in the last five years by three of the largest law firms in the U.S. Of the briefs containing links:

  • over 80% had at least one broken link,
  • on average, these briefs contained around six broken links each, and
  • one brief contained 17 broken links.

We also found that nearly 30% of all links that did still link to a page no longer displayed the referenced material, a.k.a. ‘reference rot’ or ‘content drift.’

Additionally, we found evidence that link rot can be very fast-acting: all of the briefs we reviewed were filed within the last five years, with one brief – filed just months ago in May 2017, containing 12 links – had roughly 75% of those links already broken.

So what can lawyers do about link rot?

This review of a small sample of briefs is hardly scientific, but highlights the problem and confirms that practicing lawyers, no less than courts and legal scholars, should be taking steps to link rot.

Perma.cc was devised and designed for this express purpose! Anyone can create a free account and make up to 10 Perma Links a month, and we’re now offereing a paid option for lawyers and law firms: visit our law firm signup page >here<, or shoot us an email at info@perma.cc for more information.

Perma in the News: American Libraries Magazine

Perma.cc got a recent shout-out in a December article for American Libraries Magazine about the importance of libraries in the Internet Age.

We  highly value our relationships with libraries across the country as they are key partners in our work because, as the author points out, “Libraries respect history. Web pages are ephemeral, and link rot is a real problem. The content of library collections is much more stable.”

To get started using Perma.cc yourself, sign up here!

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