About Perma

Perma.cc is a service, currently in beta, that allows users to create citation links that will never break.

When a user creates a Perma.cc link, Perma.cc archives a copy of the referenced content, and generates a link to an unalterable hosted instance of the site. Regardless of what may happen to the original source, if the link is later published by a journal using the Perma.cc service, the archived version will always be available through the Perma.cc link.

Readers who click on a Perma.cc link are taken to a page that lets them choose to go to the original site (which may have changed since the link was created) or see the archived copy of the site in its original state.

Perma.cc is an online preservation service developed by the Harvard Law School Library in conjunction with university law libraries across the country and other organizations in the “forever” business.

Why use Perma.cc

In a sample of several legal journals, approximately 70% of all links in citations published between 1999 and 2011 no longer point to the same material. Broken links in journal articles undermine the citation-based system of legal scholarship by obscuring the evidence underlying authors’ ideas.

As Internet usage becomes more widespread and web citations in legal scholarship become more common, the problem of link rot will become increasingly important.

Using Perma.cc ensures that material cited by authors will always be accessible to readers, preserving the foundation of legal scholarship online.

How it works

Any author can go to the Perma.cc website and input a URL. Perma.cc downloads the material at that URL and gives back a new URL (a “Perma.cc link”) that can then be inserted in a paper.

After the paper has been submitted to a journal, the journal staff checks that the provided Perma.cc link actually represents the cited material. If it does, the staff “vests” the link and it is forever preserved. Links that are not “vested” will be preserved for two years, at which point the author will have the option to renew the link for another two years.

Readers who encounter Perma.cc links can click on them like ordinary URLs. This takes them to the Perma.cc site where they are presented with a page that has links both to the original web source (along with some information, including the date of the Perma.cc link’s creation) and to the archived version stored by Perma.cc.

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