Links to nowhere: 404 Errors

The December 2013 issue of the A.B.A. Journal has an interesting report on the “subtle scourge of link rot.” According to the author, L. Ray Jackson, internet hyperlinks which ultimately lead to unavailable webpages (or nowhere) plague the internet in the form of “link rot.”Jackson opines broken links are not only frustrating, but create an underlying concern he calls “reference rot.” Reference rot is when the link exists but the referenced information is no longer present, especially problematic for practicing lawyers to locate legal precedent.

The article cites a study co-authored by the chief information officer at the John Marshall Law School of Chicago that found nearly one-third of the websites cited by the U.S. Supreme Court were dead links. Mostly to government or educational domains. Another similar study by Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain reports the number of obsolete links was as much as fifty percent. While some are crying link rot is destroying stare decisis as we know it, others are advising tactics to prevent link rot. Such as downloading reference material to be attached to court submissions.

Admittedly, I have mixed feelings about link rot. Having written law review articles relying on news reports from the internet, I have experienced the “scourge” of link rot first hand. I will say, however, many of the links in my paper were not reference material or used for citing legal authority. In fact, relying heavily on authority which only exists on the internet just doesn’t fit well with me. Whenever possible, print out your authoritative sources and site it appropriately. In Louisiana, if the courts cannot easily access the reference material it may order the lawyer to furnish hard copies. Since Louisiana has a strict page limitation, it is probably best to retain the copies indefinitely.

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ABC dubs former national security aid an “internet troll.”

A former director of the non-proliferation section of the National Security Staff at the White House was fired for being an internet troll. ABC News defines a troll as “anonymous Internet users who intentionally provoke others by writing inflammatory posts. They can be found in the comments sections of sites like YouTube and congregating in the darker corners of the Internet, on sites like 4chan.com.” Jofi Joseph was reportedly fired after making inflammatory anonymous remarks about senior administration officials on twitter. The article attempts to answer the age old question-why would someone squander such an elite position to be a petty internet troll?

Amazingly enough, psychologist have a theory about what makes a troll. You may be aware the anonymity of the internet is often attributed to lowering a person’s inhibitions. But, a hidden identify is not the sole cause of troll behavior. Researchers believe a troll’s behavior escalates over time if there is no negative repercussion for objectionable conduct. Consistent with this theory, Mr. Joseph publicly stated he originally intended to create an account that illustrates or mocks the “DC culture.” And at some point the mockery progressed to mean-spirited and inappropriate statements.

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Forming a corporation, LLC, and other business entities.

Forming a Louisiana business entity is pretty straightforward. The secretary of state website is very useful and contains all of the forms necessary to get your corporation, partnership, or LLC up to the proper legal status. Years ago these were things that only attorneys could do. Now, anyone with an internet connection can go to this link, fill out the proper forms, send the money, and you are now an official Louisiana business entity. All the forms you would every need for setting up your business can be found here.

Now you know where to go to create a business without consulting an attorney or an accountant. For most solo, or small family business entities without shareholders or stock value this remains a convenient and low cost way to do these things yourself . Obviously, I would encourage consulting a professional if you have any uncertainty or for more complex businesses. Much like a will, a lawyer can analyze your specific situation and do his or her best to avoid future complications.