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Legal URL Citation Archive*
Project Pilot**

 

 

Columbia Law Journals

 

Copyright Notice

 

Acknowledgments


 

          This pilot project is currently focused only on Columbia Law Journals.1 Its aim is to eventually become a centralized archive of all online sources cited in all domestic law review articles in the form they existed as of the date they were cited by the journal and/or author.

          In this age of technology, digital publishing is a reality legal scholarship has to face. Digital publishing includes what is conventionally understood to be electronic publishing (a means of distribution of information directly in electronic format), as well as that which is conventionally understood to be digitization (a means of conversion of paper materials into electronic format).

          However, in the present state of digital publishing legal scholarship, which requires reliability – accurate and continuing access to the same body of work – is under perpetual threat because of two recurrent phenomena:

  1. the constant possibility of alteration of the content of online sources (as demonstrated by the ubiquitous "last modified" mention for almost every online citation), and
  2. the threat of their disappearance.2

          Under these circumstances, and with the Bluebook's effective encouragement, the use of URL citations in law journal citation has created a new factor of unreliability in scholarly law publications. Thus, it has become essential that cited online sources should be stored and accessible in a permanent archive, similar to a "mirror site." The archived materials will reflect the state of the source as of the date of the citation, in a permanently accessible and unchanging fashion.

Dana Neacsu
Reference Librarian and Lecturer-in-Law
Columbia Law School

 


* The URL Project never took off. However, we hope that Harvard's Perma.cc (http://perma.cc/) would indirectly achieve what we could not do here at Columbia: leading academic law libraries to join in an archive whose role would be to preserve the fickle URL-identified-Google-available-free-of-charge documents, which authors use to support legal arguments in journal articles. Perma.cc has a larger and more ambitious aim than the URL Project ever had.

** The current version of this project dates from 2001. While still promoting it I wrote a more detailed article on the virtues of such a site and on how to protect it from potential claims of copyright violations. See Google, legal citations, and electronic fickleness: Legal scholarship in the digital environment, (2007, SSRN) http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/item/ac:129829.


1 Columbia Business Law Review; Columbia Journal of Asian Law; Columbia Journal of Gender and Law; Columbia Human Rights Law Review; Columbia Journal of East European Law; Columbia Journal of Environmental Law; Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems; Columbia Journal of Transnational Law; Columbia Law Review; Columbia-VLA Journal of Law and the Arts; Columbia Journal of European Law; Columbia Science and Technology Law Review; and The National Black Law Journal.

2 See the data contained in E.D. Neacsu "Legal Scholarship and Digitization: Has Anything Changed in the Way We Do Legal Research?," paper presented at "Not a Box but a Window: Conference on Law Libraries and Legal Education in a Virtual World," Toronto, February 24, 2001, accessible at <http://www.law-lib.utoronto.ca/conferences/future/archives.htm>; later published in Legal Reference Services Quarterly (http://academiccommons.columbia.edu/item/ac:129825).