Using Perma.cc provides a special URL that can be used in a Bluebook citation. Subsequent readers and researchers will be able to use that link to find an archived version of the original source
All forms of legal writing are heavily dependent on reliable and consistent citations. As stated by the Bluebook, the "central function of a legal citation is to allow the reader to efficiently locate the cited source." And so legal writers painstakingly review and verify their citations to ensure that they are accurate and complete. But what if the citation is to a source that no longer exists?
As media of all sorts - newspapers, reports, and even legal materials - increasingly moves to online and digital formats, the risk of it disappearing increases. This is the problem of "link rot," which occurs when a source can no longer be found at the URL contained in the citation. Link rot is a significant problem in all forms of legal writing. In fact, a study published in the Harvard Law Review found that more than 70% of links in a cross-sample of law review articles and more than 50% of links in Supreme Court opinions no longer worked.
Link rot also occurs quickly. This same study also found that after just one year, as many as 20% of cited online URLs may be dead or otherwise inaccessible. After just five years, over 50% of links were non-functional. As more time passes, this number increases and in most instances these links are irreversibly lost. A similar issue occurs when an online source is altered, changed, or edited. While this often happens when news agencies issue corrections to online publications, it can happen in other instances as well. Over time, even if the link is still active the contents themselves may have permanently changed such that the original source cited effectively no longer exists.
Even if the URL is valid, the contents may have changed because web content is often updated, amended or revised. This can be problematic when citing to a version of the online content that no longer exists, making it difficult to verify content and context of the cited source. The Internet Archive's "Waybackmachine" captures and archives webpages at various points of time as captured by web crawlers, but Perma.cc allows users to capture, preserve, and share content as it appeared at specific moment of time.
There are two types of Perma.cc accounts: Individual and Organization (or Group) accounts. Both types must be affiliated with a “Sponsor Account” in order to create unlimited Perma.cc links. Note: individual accounts also have a limited number of “personal” links that can be archived each month.
The Bounds Law Library will sponsor faculty and students affiliated with the Alabama Law School and University of Alabama for personal accounts. The Law Library will sponsor Organization accounts for official School of Law groups and organizations and will evaluate the appropriate for Organizational accounts for other official University of Alabama groups and organizations.
Once you have an account, you are ready to begin creating Perma.cc archived links for web content. To create a Perma.cc link, simply find the page you want to cite, highlight the URL in the browser's address bar, and highlight and copy the full URL:
Next, copy-paste the URL into the Perma.cc Perma Link creation tool picutred below. Remember: to create unlimited Perma Links, you need an account affiliated with the Bounds Law Library. Once your account is affiliated, make sure the link will be saved to the Bounds Law Library sponsored links folder by using the option under the URL paste field. Then, simply click "Create Perma Link" and Perma.cc will begin archiving the URL source:
Finally, go to your new Perma Link to copy and paste the new archived link into your citation according to Bluebook Rule 18.1.
Perma.cc offers a number of ways of getting more help and information, including:
Bluebook Rule 18.2.1(d) encourages the use of reliable archival URLs for internet sources. Under this rule, the archival URL should be appended to the end of full citation enclosed within square brackets: