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.
I’m pretty sure that this is one of the most understated announcements I’ve seen. To have this corpus of primary legal material freely available is simply huge. For years scholars, students, and researchers have been struggling with ways to gain access to this material that wasn’t a violation of some big publisher’s copyright or license agreement. IF you want a preview of the case law goodness to come, take a look at http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/ where you will find over 150,000 cases already available, plus the PHP utility used to do the transformations and a sample style sheet to control the layout and presentation. Because P.R.O is doing the right thing, these cases are well marked-up as valid XHTML which means you cna do pretty much anything you want with them from a programmatic and display stand point. Very, very cool.
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