Link Rot Rule Adopted – Fourth Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has followed a recent trend in court administration by adopting a rule to combat link rot. SCOTUS adopted a similar rule earlier this month.

The rule:

I.O.P.-36.4. Internet Citations in Opinions. Internet resources cited in the Court’s opinions that can be saved in PDF format will be preserved by the opinion’s author at the time of viewing and placed on the Court’s docket as opinion attachments when the opinion is filed

Link rot is the phenomenon where a static document includes an internet link to content that later becomes unavailable. This can happen when the original author removes it, or when the URL changes (like if a site goes through a major restructuring). By adopting this rule, the Fourth Circuit is requiring that linked documents be saved as PDFs where possible.