Commons/Enclosure: Opening up the American lawbooks

By Robert Link, published at 23 August 2007 - 8:35pm, last updated 12 years 23 weeks ago.

Originally spotted at the inestimable, here:

The nation's laws are supposed to belong to the people, yet they are amazingly hard to get access to.

Columbia Law School Professor Tim Wu and public information champion Carl Malamud point to some very exciting developments aimed at fixing the problem. First, AltLaw, a joint project of Columbia Law School and University of Colorado Law School, aims "to make the common law a bit more common by creating the first free, full-text searchable database of Supreme Court and Federal Appellate case reports. Second, has a short term goal of creating "an unencumbered full-text repository of the Federal Reporter, the Federal Supplement, and the Federal Appendix.. From the readme at

“The judicial opinions of both state and federal courts are in the public domain and are therefore not subject to copyright.”

Those words are empty sentiment without the efforts of folks like Wu and Malamud.