The death of link rot

Over time, important research, findings, and even laws rely on links on the internet that simply cease to exist. There’s a plan in motion to stop that from happening.

Imagine a research library where most of the books are missing footnotes — where the bottom of the pages are stained or ripped out, making it impossible for scholars to tell the sources of information. That’s the state of many web pages right now, including those for the Supreme Court and The New England Journal of Medicine and Science.

New York Times’ legal reporter Adam Liptak called attention to the problem in September, citing research that showed half of the links on the Supreme Court site don’t work. This pervasive “link rot,” he noted, means the sources and authorities that form the basis of the Court’s decisions are simply missing.

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