[cross-posted on LegalResearchPlus]
The headline from the Internet Archive posting reads: “Millions of documents from over 350k federal court cases now freely available.”
The millions of documents are all from PACER by way of the RECAP plugin.
As the posting states:
“RECAP is a Firefox Internet browser extension that allows users of the PACER to get free copies of documents they would normally pay for when the Archive has a copy, and if it is not available to then automatically donate the documents after they purchase them from PACER for future users. Therefore the repository on the Internet Archive grows as people use the PACER system with this plug-in. We are currently getting more than one document a minute and some large holdings are being uploaded. We hope that the government will eventually put all of these documents in an open archive, but until then this repository will grow with use.”
Wow. Growing faster than one document a minute! (Right now: stop what you are doing and check to see if you have the RECAP plugin installed on your machine — every little bit helps.)
To visit this collection and search the content, go to www.archive.org/details/usfederalcourts. There you will be able to browse by date (the other browsing features aren’t operational). You can also do an Advanced Search on the Internet Archive and keyword search through all the available materials by limiting to the Collection Type = usfederalcourts. VERY COOL.
And, might I add: FREE!
I checked with the good folks who created RECAP at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, and they said that for now the RECAP/Internet Archive collection of PACER dockets (specifically: just the high-level case metadata) are indexed and can be searched by the likes of Google, but the underlying dockets, documents and briefs are still hidden from the search robots because of privacy concerns.
“RECAP the Law and the Movement to Free Government Records” with Stephen Schultze.
January 11, 2010 from 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm
Location: Robert Crown Law Library, 2nd floor Reference Lounge.
Co-sponsored by CIS, please join us for a talk on “RECAP the Law and the Movement to Free Government Records” as part of our Reference Lounge Readings series.
Schultze is Associate Director at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University (formerly of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard). His research focuses on government transparency, telecoms policy, and open source.
The movement for government transparency has often focused on just two of the three branches of government: the executive and legislative. The RECAP project takes this movement to the third branch—the judiciary. Today, government puts federal court records online in a system called PACER: Public Access to Electronic Court Records. Created by the courts in the late 1980s, the system was ahead of the curve when it first appeared. But today, PACER is a relic of an earlier era. It keeps documents behind a pay-wall and suffers many usability shortcomings.
RECAP enables citizens to easily share federal court documents. The goal of this project, over time, is to publish an extensive archive to the public for free. This will not only help people who are interested in a particular case, but will also pave the way for others to build more and better tools.
In his talk, Stephen Schultze will discuss both the technical workings of RECAP, as well as the policy implications of the project.
Pizza will be served, too!
[Originally posted by Erika Wayne on LegalResearchPlus]
Meet RECAP (http://recapthelaw.org) – Be impressed. Very impressed.
PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) documents sit behind a pay-wall; however, these are public record documents, so once a document has been retrieved from PACER, it may be freely shared.
RECAP enables us to easily share federal court documents. The goal of this project is to publish an extensive archive of these documents to the public for free (our favorite word).
RECAP is an extension to the Firefox browser. There is a a video on the site that demonstrates the extension in action.
RECAP works with Firefox to upload case dockets and documents that you have paid for to the public archive, and notifying you when free versions of documents are already available.
RECAP is a project of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. It is one of several projects that harness the power of the web to increase government transparency.