Google, legal citations, and electronic fickleness: Legal scholarship in the digital environment
While law review articles are preserved in fee-based databases such as Westlaw and Lexis and thus are reliably accessible for the future, the footnotes, the source of authority and the body of most law review articles which themselves represent the main part of legal scholarship, usually refer to documents which far too often become inaccessible within a few months after their publication. Both government documents and documents privately published on the Internet have an unreliable life-span. This contradictory approach to digitization raises a large array of questions. Among them, is the following: How does this double digitization (that is, digitizing articles which refer to already-digitized, but unreliably retrieved, prior sources) affect the retrieval of legal information? Whose job is it to preserve legal information? As this is a more complex answer here I will only attempt to show that digitization has created a different environment of legal information (which includes legal scholarship) and this new environment proves to be more elusive that we would like to think about it.
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