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USA: 1.8 million pages of federal case law to become public domain

Submitted by Bernardo Parrella on Fri, 21/12/2007 - 20:22

In early 2008 a large and free archive of federal case law will be made available online. The archive will be public domain and usable by anyone for any purpose.

The cases will include all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754, and they 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. Fastcase, Inc., 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.

According to the agreement signed in November by the two entities, this transaction represents a one-time purchase of a copy of data. “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.”

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