Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

More on OA to case law

Robert Ambrogi, An Accelerating Trend, Oregon State Bar Bulletin, May 2008. (Thanks to Legal Research Plus.)
Feb. 11 was a day that may forever change the course of online legal research. On that day, the nonprofit organization Public.Resource.Org published to the Internet 1.8 million pages of federal case law, free of copyright or other restrictions. The release included all Supreme Court cases and all U.S. circuit decisions since 1950.

Ever since 1872, when John B. West hit upon the idea of building a business around publishing and selling court decisions, commercial publishers have maintained a firm hold on the dissemination of judicial opinions. Not to knock them legal publishers filled an essential niche and continue to provide valuable and necessary products.

But in the information age in which we now live, private control over the distribution of public case law seems anachronistic. For nearly two decades, gradual progress has been made towards greater public access. But the Public.Resource.Org release is just one of several developments whose convergence suggests that this trend is accelerating. ...