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Law-Related Digitization and Preservation Stories of 2013

PALMPrint:  Preserving America’s Legal Materials in Print (PALMPrint) is a collaborate project of the New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO) and the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA).  It aims to develop a shared, circulating collection of primary, U.S. legal materials in print.   The concept was announced in 2012, and in 2013, the project reached its membership goal with approximately 60 member libraries committing to support this project to-date.  For more information about PALMPrint, check this page.

Google Books:  Way back in 2004, Google launched one of the most ambitious digitization projects in history – to scan every book held by several major libraries and make the content freely searchable online.   Google was quickly sued by The Authors Guild and several individual authors in 2005 for copyright infringement because it had not sought the permissions of authors and publishers prior to scanning the works.  After eight long years of litigation, the federal district court in The Authors Guild v. Google, Inc. finally issued an opinion in November of 2013.   Google’s scanning efforts are protected by fair use, and the display of small snippets of text from the original works, which helps researchers all of the world to locate relevant materials, is permissible.  For more detailed coverage of the case, see the New York Times, Siding With Google, Judge Says Book Search Does Not Infringe Copyright or view the Judge’s decision here.  The Authors Guild plans to appeal the district court decision.

Link Rot:  Link rot occurs whenever a document or web page referred to in a URL citation is moved or deleted.   This causes a broken link and prevents the reader from locating the source material.  The problem of link rot in U.S. Supreme Court opinions was highlighted in a new paper, titled Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010), published in June 2013 by Raizel Liebler and June Liebert of John Marshall Law School.  According to the authors, “[o]f the URLs used within the U.S. Supreme Court opinions during our study period, we found that 29% of them were invalid.”  Furthermore, in September 2013, a new service, called, was launched to combat the problem of link rot in legal journals.   According to a study conducted by three Harvard scholars, in a sample of citations taken from legal journals, “approximately 70% of all links in citations published between 1999 and 2011 no longer point to the same material.” allows users to create a hosted copy of the referenced content which will always be available even if the original source document is deleted or moved., now has over 40 partner institutions.

Library of Congress – Top Posts of 2013:  If you’d like to read more about preservation and digitization, the Library of Congress recently published a list of “The Top 14 Digital Preservation Posts of 2013 on The Signal.”

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