January/February 2008 issue

Group Makes Federal Decisions Free Online

Creative Commons and Public.Resource.Org, two non-profit organizations, have created a web site (http://public.resource.org) intended to make various types of government information available to the public for free. So far the site has focused on Smithsonian images, congressional hearings and materials from the Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

The site is now moving into the realm of federal court decisions by making a large number of them downloadable in bulk from http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/. Currently the files include all U.S. Supreme Court decisions and all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to current. Most of the case law was purchased from Fastcase, Inc. The purchase was made possible by donations from various foundations. Additional case law was contributed by publisher William S. Hein & Co.

The files have been converted to standard XHTML format and use CSS style sheets in order to allow developers to build their own search engines and interfaces. For much more detail about the project, you can read the press release and this article from Law.com.