Carl Malamud and Public.Resource.org have gotten together with Ed Walters CEO of FastCase and are happy to announce that they will be putting online an archive of US Appeal Court decisions since 1950 and all of the US Supreme Court cases since 1754. Here is their announcement.
1.8 million pages of federal case law to become freely available.
WASHINGTON, D.C. / SEBASTOPOL, CA—November 14, 2007—Public.Resource.Org and Fastcase, Inc. announced today that they will release a large and free archive of federal case law, including all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754. The archive will be public domain and usable by anyone for any purpose.
“The U.S. judiciary has allowed their entire work product to be locked up behind a cash register,” said Carl Malamud, CEO of Public.Resource.Org. “Law is the operating system of our society and today’s agreement means anybody can read the source for a substantial amount of case law that was previously unavailable.”
Fastcase, the leading developer of next-generation American legal research, has agreed to provide Public.Resource.Org with 1.8 million pages of federal case law. This is a marked departure for the online legal research industry, which traditionally has charged expensive subscription fees to access this information.
“For eight years, Fastcase has been ahead of the market curve, working to democratize access to the law,” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase, Inc. “At the same time, we have been advancing the science of search, combining the precision of traditional legal research with the simplicity of Web-based searches.”
Fastcase has reversed the traditional subscription model for lawyers, contracting directly with 11 state bar associations to make the national law library free for lawyers in their states. “Through this agreement with Public.Resource.Org, we are proud to expand our efforts beyond lawyers, and to make more of the law available to the general public at no cost,” Walters said.
The agreement calls for definitive paperwork approved by both parties within 30 days with Public.Resource.Org making developer snapshots of the archive available in early 2008. Public.Resource.Org is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in this transaction. The cases will be marked with a new Creative Commons mark—CC-Ø—that signals that there are no copyrights or other related rights attached to the content.
This transaction represents a one-time purchase of a copy of data. This corpus will be integrated into the ongoing public services from organizations such as AltLaw and the Legal Information Institute, thus providing continuity of coverage into the future. Further announcements will be forthcoming on the availability of other case law, including Federal District and pre-1949 Appellate decisions.
Public.Resource.Org intends to perform an initial transformation on the federal case law archive obtained from Fastcase using open source “star” mapping software, which will allow the insertion of markers that will approximate page breaks based on user-furnished parameters such as page size, margins, and fonts. “Wiki” technology will be used to allow the public to move around these “star” markers, as well as add summaries, classifications, keywords, alternate numbering systems for citation purposes, and ratings or “diggs” on opinions.
|carl at media dot org
Fastcase is the leading American provider of next-generation legal research, making the law accessible to more people by providing the national law library at a fraction of the cost of traditional companies. Using patented software that combines the best of legal research with the best of Web search, Fastcase helps busy legal professionals sift through the clutter, ranking the best cases first and enabling users to re-sort results to find answers fast. Founded in 1999, Fastcase has more than 275,000 paid subscribers from around the world. It is an American company based in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.fastcase.com.
Public.Resource.Org was founded in 2007 to spearhead the creation of public works projects for the Internet. A 501(c)(3) registered public charity, Public.Resource.Org has worked across all three branches of the U.S. government to enhance the public domain.
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