According to a recent announcement “[t]he United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is taking further steps to ensure that information derived from the Internet and cited in official court opinions remains available even if the original online resource ceases to exist or is altered.” As of January 4, 2016, they automatically add PDF files of websites cited in documents to the case docket, accessible through their online case management/filing system and PACER.
From 2008 through 2015 the Ninth Circuit Library created and maintained an online collection of PDF files of Websites Cited in Ninth Circuit Opinions. This change will make the relevant files more apparent to researchers looking at a case docket.
Source: Online Citation Sources Added to Docket, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Jan. 1, 2016.
Two recent articles worth reading if you want to research online and recall the past:
Net for Lawyers: Google’s News Search is in Even Worse Condition Than we First Thought, Another in an Unfortunately Growing Series of Articles about Google Search Problems
“The Cobweb: Can the Internet be archived?“ by Jill Lepore, New Yorker, Jan. 26, 2015 issue.
From ABA News: “Site aiming to prevent ‘link rot’ for legal researchers wins 2015 Webby,” by Molly McDonough, 4/27/15:
Excerpt: “A service that enables courts and researchers to make permanent links to research found on the Web has won a Webby Award for best legal site of 2015.
Perma.cc, developed by the Harvard Law School Library and supported by a network of more than 60 law libraries, takes on the widespread problem of broken or defunct Web links, also known as “link rot,” which can that can undermine research by scholars and courts….” [Link to full ABA article.]
But, let’s say, the article vanishes in the fullness of time from that particular URL and you can’t find another URL location for it via Google. You will still be able to see the article at the Internet Archive since I used their “Save Page Now” service.
“The Web is fluid and mutable, and this is a “feature” rather than a “bug”. But it also creates challenges in the legal environment (and elsewhere) when fixed content is necessary for legal writers to support their conclusions. Judges, attorneys, academics, and others using citations need systems and practices to preserve web content as it exists in a particular moment in time, and make it reliably available.
On October 24, 2014 Georgetown University Law Library in Washington, D.C. will host a symposium that explores the problem of link and reference rot.” [Link to symposium website.]
Excerpt: “Rotten World of Legal Citation,” July 31st, 2014 by sadavis:
In the past few years, the issue of link rot has become a growing concern in relation to broken links in legal citations, most notably in U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Two articles that discuss this problem in detail are:
1) Raizel Liebler & June Liebert, Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010), 15 Yale J.L. & Tech. 273 (2013). Available at http://yjolt.org/sites/default/files/Something_Rotten_in_Legal_Citation.pdf (finding that 29% of websites cited in US Supreme Court opinions no longer worked);
On October 24, 2014, Georgetown University Law Library in Washington, D.C. will host a symposium that explores the problem of link and reference rot:
If you run into broken links from this blog to documents on our website, the Washington County (Oregon) Law Library, we apologize.
When websites are upgraded, when webpages are moved, when links rot, we all know what happens. Sigh.
We all try our best to clean up links, but sometimes we just need to move on, move forward. (Maybe that was what James Joyce and Shakespeare decided too, when they looked at their published manuscripts and noticed typos or, heaven forbid, awkward sentences. I bet they both said, “let it go, let’s just move on. What’s past is prologue.” Well, it could have happened!)