Friday, April 9, 2010

Government Information Should be Free, Right?

Although there are many, many outlets for legal information that have no direct costs to the consumer, federal court docket information will cost you 8 cents per page. Sure, the PACER Service Center incurs costs in maintaining and distributing these documents -- but doesn't every government entity?

There have been efforts to redistribute PACER docket information for free (some official, some not), but here's one that gets the information out passively. RECAP is a firefox extension that searches the Internet Archives collection of PACER documents -- i.e. available for free. Then, for those documents you have to download from PACER, it uploads them to the archive.

Perhaps a more sophisticated docketing system would allow the world to follow specific litigation more closely -- at least, for a lower cost. Better yet, pehaps a hapless attorney could monitor his federal dockets via Google Alerts.

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