"Legal publishers shouldn’t be competing on the availability of public law – everyone should have that. They should be competing on who has built the smartest tools, the best service, and who creates the most value." Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase
Washington, DC (PRWEB) December 20, 2010
Legal publisher Fastcase today announced that it will collaborate with Public.Resource.org on a weekly feed of national caselaw updates – the nation’s first public broadcast of standardized judicial opinions for bulk download.
The initiative is part of a broad-based Law.Gov effort to make the nation’s primary legal materials available to everyone.
The weekly public feed will begin mid-January, 2011, and will include new judicial opinions from all state Supreme Courts, state Courts of Appeal, federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The opinions will be available for download for free and without restriction under a Creative Commons CC-Zero license.
Most (but not all) of the opinions are available today from hundreds of individual court websites. “The courts have created a modern-day Tower of Babel, with hundreds of different formats, standards, and file types,” said Ed Walters, CEO of Fastcase. “To make the law understandable and useful, Fastcase harmonizes these opinions into a single standard for our own site. Today, we’re sharing that work with the world.”
“The RECOP feed will be treated as an open source project with revision control, multiple commiters, open discussion lists, and perhaps even multiple branches,” said Carl Malamud, President of Public.Resource.org. “Law.Gov participants include both for-profit organizations such as Justia and Fastcase and academic institutions such as Princeton, Cornell, and Stanford.”
The shared objective is for this project to be taken over by the federal government within two years. “The United States should lead the world in the rule of law – but that means making the law accessible and understandable by all," Walters said. "Fundamentally, the government must ensure that public law is public. We’ll get the project started, but it’s our hope that the government can take this work over within the next couple of years.”
“Publishers spend tens of millions of dollars per year collecting and standardizing judicial opinions, something that should be public and free,” Walters said. “Starting today, it is.” Legal columnist Bob Ambrogi has said that the effort is a major development. "The next revolution in legal publishing is just around the corner," he said.
Walters added, “Legal publishers shouldn’t be competing on the availability of public law – everyone should have that. They should be competing on who has built the smartest tools, the best service, and who creates the most value – a competition we’ve for years been building up to win.” Fastcase has been one of the most innovative publishers in the market, with integrated citation analysis tools, the first data visualization tools in legal research, and award-winning free mobile apps like Fastcase for iPhone and iPad.
In addition to weekly release of all current opinions, this feed will include periodic releases of important segments of the back file, including:
- A release of 3 million pages of 9th Circuit briefs from 1892 to 1968 which was produced in cooperation with the UC Hastings College of Law and the Internet Archive and is scheduled for release in Q1 2011.
- Double-keyed HTML for at least the first 10 volumes of the Federal Reporter, First Series and all 30 volumes of the Federal Cases will be completed by the end of Q2 2011. This data is being furnished as part of the YesWeScan Project.
- William S. Hein & Co., which provided high-resolution scans of the Federal Cases, is providing a high-resolution scan of the Federal Reporter, First Series which will be released in Q1 2011.
For more information, visit http://radar.oreilly.com/2010/12/the-report-of-current-opinions.html or http://www.fastcase.com.
As the smarter alternative for legal research, Fastcase democratizes the law, making it more accessible to more people. Using patented software that combines the best of legal research with the best of Web search, Fastcase helps busy users sift through the clutter, ranking the best cases first and enabling the re-sorting of results to find answers fast. Founded in 1999, Fastcase.com has more than 500,000 subscribers from around the world. Fastcase is an American company based in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit http://www.fastcase.com.
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