The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive has just published its 3rd annual study of link rot among the original urls for web-published legal materials. Link rot, according to the study, describes “a URL that no longer provides direct access to files matching the content originally harvested from the URL and currently preserved in the Chesapeake Project’s digital archive. In some instances, a 404 or ‘not found’ message indicates link rot at a URL; in others, the URL may direct to a site hosted by the original publishing organization or entity, but the specific resource has been removed or relocated from the original or previous URL.”
In the 3 years since the launch of the Chesapeake Project, researchers have found that link rot increased from about one in every 12 archived titles in 2008, to one in every seven titles in 2009, and finally to about one in every 3.5 titles in 2010.
All of the Web resources described in the report that have disappeared from their original locations on the Web remain accessible via permanent archive URLs at legalinfoarchive.org, thanks to the Chesapeake Project's efforts.