Private Innovation Strikes Again!

| August 15, 2009 | Reply

This looks like it could be a pretty big deal, especially for people intertested in looking at bankruptcy filings (think that might be important with the current economic situation and this adminstration’s penchant for corruption?).

Access to the nation’s federal law proceedings just got a public interest hack, thanks to programmers from Princeton, Harvard and the Internet Archive, who released a Firefox plug-in designed to make millions of pages of legal documents free.

Free as in beer and free as in speech.

Apparently, getting public documents from the Federal court system has cost money, which is something I honestly didn’t know. I thought that accessing and downloading publicly-available documents was free. Silly me, huh?

This Firefox plug-in, though, makes the documents very nearly free. The other advantage is that if you get a document for which you have to pay, the plugin appears to put that document in the public domain so that the next person won’t have to pay for it. That strikes me as a handy thing to have access to and a real triumph for private innovation.

Kind of neat, if the courts allow it to continue. According to the Wired article, they’ve been a bit twitchy about people having unfettered access to public records as recently as last year.

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Category: The Good Old US of A

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