April launched an exciting development for BC legal researchers and for the open law and open data movements. QP LegalEze, the BC Queen’s Printer’s deep and highly functional subscription service for current and some historical legislative information, is no more. Or, more accurately, it is by subscription no more.
All of its content and functionality now is available through BC Laws, the free site also offered by the Queen’s Printer:
BC Laws has been upgraded to provide enhanced searching and more content including historical legislation and related publications such as BC Gazette, full text Orders-in-Council, and Tables of Legislative Changes. All content is delivered in an “open data format” and restrictions on commercial and non-commercial use of the data have been changed (read more).
Some jurisdictions—Ontario and the federal, for example—have offered free and more or less current access to primary law for years, with some depth of historical content and ability to manipulate searches to locate the law at particular points in time. Other jurisdictions, like BC, have offered excellent historical and current legislative content by paid subscription, with a limited range of primary content available on companion free sites. And opening up the data is a great new step.
If freer access to primary law were not a good enough thing, it’s wonderful and exciting that the content on BC Law—all of it—is delivered as open data, under a Queen’s Printer License. The license enables, among other activities, full and partial content reuse and publication for commercial and non-commercial purposes, subject to appropriate conditions. To this end, the Queen’s Printer has also released access to the API underlying BC Laws.
So BC legal researchers, rejoice, and API programmers, get busy.