Jonathan Zittrain, Larry Lessig and I have been working on a paper laying out some empirical evidence of linkrot and reference rot in law review and Supreme Court citations, and proposing a solution, which is called Perma.cc. Our research found that 49% of links in SCOTUS opinions and between 60-70% of journal links are broken - a huge number that only increases as time passes. The full results are available at the draft on SSRN.
Given that the New York Times picked up this research, it’s about time for me to write something about it. Sorry blog readers, I was scooped.
So I’ll just say this: Perma has the potential to save legal scholarship and court opinions from some of the problems the paper mentions. This change, like many changes to legal citation, needs to come from below - from the libraries and journals, and then upwards to the courts. I’m thrilled that our empirical work has enough of a shocking numerical value to get folks to pay attention, but even more thrilled that we have a real solution to offer.