Today’s New York Times has reports that “activist… internet gadfly… self-styled Robin Hood” Carl Malmud has begun a direct challenge to the big online publishers by copying and placing online 1000 pages of court decisions from the 1880’s that he acknowledges getting from a Thomson microfiche. He says he aims to make freely available up to ten million pages of caselaw.
The judgments Malmud has published are available on his site, public.resource.org. At the moment there is a hyper-compressed tiff file of all of the thousand pages — nearly 4G in size, itself a formidable barrier to access I should have thought. However, Malmud plans to make text available eventually — or to force the U.S. government to do so.
According to Malmud’s “readme” file:
The goals of this project are:
1. The short-term goal is the creation of an unencumbered full-text repository of the Federal Reporter, the Federal Supplement, and the Federal Appendix.
2. The medium-term goal is the creation of an unencumbered full-text repository of all state and federal cases and codes.
As we’ve remarked a number of times here on Slaw, we who live in Canada and enjoy the access to law that CanLII provides might find it hard to believe that our neighbours lack the same free access. Malmud’s goal seems laudable to me; but his chances of success, if he has to go it alone, are small, I fear.