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Democracy in the Dark?

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the headlight-of-an-oncoming-train dept.

The Courts 595

scubacuda writes "Melissa Bar has written an insightful article on how Westlaw and Lexis Nexis restrict public access to case law databases. She writes, '[T]he courts and the court's words belong to us. In more ways than one, the American people have already paid for the case law produced by our courts. Commercial vendors must not be allowed to highjack our law or dictate who may have access to it. By refusing to allow public libraries to purchase electronic subscriptions that can serve their patrons, Westlaw and LexisNexis are closing the door on information.' Individually purchasing the documents over credit card is incredibly expensive, making it virtually inaccessible to most library patrons."

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FP in the Dark (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295281)

eat it darkies

8==(,,,)==D ~* ~o ~~O (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295309)

It's not like that (5, Insightful)

Globe199 (442245) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295332)

Say Lexis Nexis has "hijacked" our access to the cases is not entirely accurate. What you're paying for is the service of bringing you that data.

It's like saying the water company shouldn't be allowed to charge for a natural resource which is rightfully everyone's. Again, you're paying for the service of bringing it to you.


Welfare, anyone? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295462)

Clean water, being a prime necessity should be accessible to everyone, even the poorest. Through charging for distribution, you deny this access. Hence water distribution should be ensured free of charge, on your relunctantly paid "taxpayer's money." Same goes for air, food and medical services. Of course, food is a little different, as delivering the same to everyone would contradict some people's belief. That's what welfare money is for.
Culture, you don't need to live, though this is arguable, so a price for the service given may be acceptable. Of course, this price should be fair, but what's fair, esp. in a country ruled by rich parasitic morons?

Hacked by GOBBLES (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295283)

Hello, I would like to give a big fat 'SHOUT OUT' to GOBBLES

Sooo... (5, Insightful)

jpellino (202698) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295295)

What if you wish to act as your own attorney? Seems like the deck is stacked towards the pros - while understandable for the companies that do this, it is nonetheless your right to represent yourself. This just makes it hard.

Re:Sooo... (2, Interesting)

creative_name (459764) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295362)

IANAL, but among them there is a saying that goes something like this: "A man who represents himself has a fool for an attorney."

Re:Sooo...IAASL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295418)

" IANAL, but among them there is a saying that goes something like this: 'A man who represents himself has a fool for an attorney.'"

Doesn't stop "/." from IAASL, everytime a topic having to do with the law and/or politics comes up.

Re:Sooo... (1)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295365)

Who was it said that a person who acts as their own attorney has a fool for a client?

Re:Sooo... (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295405)

The same people that charge 150+ per hour for WordPerfect templates.

Re:Sooo... (5, Insightful)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295513)

"Who was it said..." Probably a lawyer. They sure don't want you not using their services. Law shouldn't be so unapproachable that normal people can't understand it. Normal people should be able to understand the laws they live by. Other than the procedural formalities of being in court, I don't know why an intelligent person shouldn't be perfectly capable of representing himself, pro se.

Re:Sooo... (1)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295588)

I think the maxim was to apply to lawyers as well. It's better to have someone from the outside looking in to see what you don't see and to draw out information you assume is evident because you've taken it for granted. I'm not trying to drum up business for the members of the bar, but going it alone is rarely the wisest decision when the stakes are high (as they often are when dealing with the courts).

Re:Sooo... (4, Insightful)

MikeTheYak (123496) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295502)

That's one reason attorneys get to demand the big bucks. There's a tremendous volume of case law and statutes which must be researched for any case. All that work has to be compensated somehow unless you want to do it yourself.

What Lexis-Nexus and WestLaw have done is collate and cross-reference this incredible volume of data. Why shouldn't they be compensated for performing an immensely useful service by the people who use the service?

If you want to see prohibitive expense, imagine what it would take to accumulate a law library with all of this information in print.

It is your right to represent yourself, but there's no law that says that effective lawyerin' has to be easy or cheap.

Re:Sooo... (2, Troll)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295600)

It is your right to represent yourself, but there's no law that says that effective lawyerin' has to be easy or cheap.

So you're saying then that only rich people should have access to an effective lawyer?

Re:Sooo... (1)

sawdustwilly (567170) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295537)


Fascism (2001-2003): A Work In Progress (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295563)

by Ashcroft, J., Bush, G. W., Cheney, R. B., Poindexter, J., and
Rumsfeld, D.

Welcome to the United States of Amerika!!

Get Your Iraq War On []


fp! (-1, Offtopic)

hector_pelviscube! (638934) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295297)

first pelvis!

Re:fp! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295335)

first pelvis!

And the 125,637th ass!

Obscurity (0, Troll)

tintruder (578375) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295303)

The obscurity is intentional to insure people continue to transfer wealth to parasitic attorneys.

This relates to my theory on lawyers, and why they (5, Funny)

Adam Rightmann (609216) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295315)

make so much more than IT people. All the lawyers references books are bound in leather and make matching sets, making an expensive, intimidating wall of knowledge buttressing their skills.

In contrast, I look at my bookshelves, and see a hodge podge of O'Reilly books, Dummies books, Various OS Bibles (yeah, heretical, I know), few of which match, and few of which are leather bound.

I'm hoping that once IT stabilizes, O'Reilly can come out with a huge set of matching leather bound tomes that would make an imposing background for my IT work. Then I can charge $100/hour.

Of course, that would cost a lot, raising the barrier of entry, just like Lexus/Nexus does.

Ummm... (4, Informative)

NecroPuppy (222648) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295320)

It isn't like Lexus Nexus and Westlaw have a monopoly on the information. You can still look it up on your own. All these services do is provide convienence via their search engines.

If you don't want to pay for it, look up the information yourself...

Re:Ummm...[??] (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295374)

"If you don't want to pay for it, look up the information yourself..."

Where? And how many states do I have to drive thru to get to it?

Re:Ummm...[??] (2, Insightful)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295406)

It's called a telephone. Just because you think you have some sort of entitlement just because you are a US citizen doesn't mean it's true.

We only pay for the trials, not the searchabilaty of the proceedings. If you have a problem with that, why don't you write a DB that has all that info in it so we can all search it for free? Oh yeah, it costs lots and lots of money! And no, I'm not paying any more commie taxes just so you can search a database of case trials.

Re:Ummm...[??] (2, Insightful)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295468)

That's why you pay them: To locate and retreive it for you.

Allow me to make a comparison: Is it a threat to democracy that I have to pay for the morning paper? How am I to stay informed about events if that information isn't free! It belongs to the public!

In both cases the information is still there, I'd just have to find it myself. Sure, I could spend my mornings calling the local police office to hear what's happened since yesterday. I could call various government branches and ask for their latest press releases. I could call all my friends and ask if something interesting happened in their neighborhood. I could call the sports teams I follow and ask how they did yesterday. Or, I can pay the paper 50 cents a day to find these things our for me, my choice.

Re:Ummm... (3, Insightful)

GMontag (42283) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295461)

I completely agree.

Quite seriously, I do not understand one bit the 'logic' of the person that submitted this story.

None of the sources cited prevent anybody from looking up and copying the paper copies, electronic versions from other sources, or anything else. They only limit the use of their own work!

How this gets morphed into "Westlaw has an electronic copy therefore I should have it free" is beyond me.

No kidding (4, Insightful)

M.C. Hampster (541262) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295473)

People don't understand that there was time, effort and money put into creating and maintaining these databases. The combination of an entitlement-oriented attitude and a lack of basic economic principles makes Slashdot seem like one big whine-fest sometimes.

The information is available to all with no cost (or whatever cost the government may charge), just not through these services. You are paying for convenience.

Re:No kidding (1)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295543)

You said a mouthfull. It's just like Linux, really. If you think about it: Linux is available totally free of charge, and you can do whatever you want with it once you have it. However, to get it in an easily usable form, you are going to have to pay someone who has done all the work for you(eg: a distrobution). Makes sense really. That way, you can get the information in several different forms and possibly for a better price/value rating.

They want to copyright it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295526)

"LexisNexis offered to publish the code in exchange for temporary copyright access to some materials. "

I have an idea (2, Interesting)

- FuckingNerds - (648891) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295322)

...let's charge a tax to build an infrastructure to house all these documents. Someone has to pay for the resources.

Re:I have an idea (2, Insightful)

BreadMan (178060) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295401)

I think this is called income tax :-)

But a do agree that one of the jobs of government is to make public information public; until about 20 years ago, the best they could do was paper.

Now I think the concept of publicly available information should mean electronic with full text indexing.

More info (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295337)

More info in the AP article here []

Hmmm (-1, Offtopic)

ptrangerv8 (644515) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295340)

Sounds a lot like M!cro$oft vs Linux almost... Cept linux is Open Source.... and here it's just joe consumer vs Big @ss corporation....

mod me up, mod me down
here is the obligitory clown

are you kidding me (0, Offtopic)

diablobynight (646304) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295394)

How did someone try to rip Microsoft in the middle of this. lol. My god, you need a life if somehow you can draw a similarity here. It seems to me that if I spent thousands of man hours storing and sorting data and paying for bandwidth for people to be able to access it, I would expect to be able to charge money for this service.

Umm (2, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295343)

Am I missing something, or is she missing the point that it costs time and money to put these documents onto their service?

Granted, they should also go into the public domain - but forcing LexusNexus to open up their database seems rather extreme and wholly unfeasable.

Re:Umm (1)

WanChan (548461) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295497)

it can't take all that much time -- they both appear to use scanning software and eschew proofreading. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the 'word' "frorn" [from].
Westlaw does add more hyperlinks, but I feel that they could manipulate the text in other ways... to whit:
any UK (or other) law students out there on /.? I have a little shell script that I am writing which searches and replaces text with HTML tags to highlight judges' names, case names etc. Still grappling with regexps to learn to do this, but someone (other than me) may find if useful....

Re:Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295587)

Yes, you are missing something. The point is case law cannot (should not) be copyrighted, thus anyone can redistribute the case law without restriction. The case law represents the work of judges and the court and must be made available to the public, in the same way the actual laws must be publicly available.

February is an odd month (-1, Offtopic)

MondoMor (262881) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295345)

Melissa Bar... is that who all those wannabe lawyers make a pass at? HYUK.

I fully expected to be trolling a lot this month, but the Columbia accident (along with work and family stuff) have changed my priorities. I've been scouring news sites and Usenet for any information, and reading Dennis R. Jenkins' [] absolutely outstanding book about the Space Shuttle. I was actually getting ready to fire off a few trolls when I saw a post by an AC saying communication with Columbia was lost.

Weird... Slashdot actually provided something useful. Surely a fluke.

I finally got to dive into Slashdot today, and I noticed two interesting articles (more for their comments than the articles themselves, of course):

Samba-TNG Team Releases 0.3 []


Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality []

The first article's comments are absolutely DRENCHED in the Old Ike story. I don't know if that article is some sort of crapflooding record, but it's certainly impressive. Even Old Ike [] himself made an appearance!

In the second article, an AC makes a good point [] , one that I've tried to make before -- the stupid moderation system is as big a manufacturer of trolls and crapflooders as is brain damage and/or immaturity. If whoever had written that was logged in (or a known "troll"), you can bet the moderation would have been swift and negative. As it is, it appears to have only received one "Overrated" moderation (hi, michael!), plus a couple of "Insightful" and "Interesting" points.

Remember the first Batman movie?

Batman (to The Joker): "I made you? You made me first!"

(If you need spoonfeeding, that's what the trolls (Batman) are trying to tell CmdrTaco (The Joker).)

My point is, the fact that insightful and dissenting opinions are routinely modded down and that editors abuse their moderation ability to further their own agenda generates resentment and rebellion. This gives birth to trolls and crapflooders. (Yes, Jamie, I read your comment [] in a previous journal, but I don't buy it, as you'll see in my reply. Editors abuse mod points. Just ask Cetan [] .) The immaturity of the rank-and-file Slashdot poster is almost as big a problem as the editors. These small-minded, insecure zealots censor posts that they find disagreeable.

The mod system has changed recently, and you now receive moderation notices in spasmodic digests, so you can't see the result of an editor's abuse, or the moderator with a grudge.

If you can't bear the sight of an opinion different from yours, you're a fool. If you censor or suppress that opinion through moderation, you're a fascist [] . Slashdot is supposed to be a community for open-minded discussion, yet its mod system continues to encourage an ever-narrowing viewpoint. It has failed. CmdrTaco can't see this -- he can't handle ANY criticism -- and so continues to make Slashdot worse with each hamfisted hack to the moderation system.

Normally I would think crapflooding the Old Ike story would be immature and ultimately counter-productive. But since I know that this site can never get any beter because of the editorial staff's collective stupidity (and the user base they attract) I just laugh instead, and I participate in the trolling and dissent. I'm playing my part in the band as this Titanic sinks into the cold depths of the post-dot-com era.

Fuck you, slashdot.


This story [] got crapflooded while I was typing this long-winded journal entry. Good show.

PAYPALSUCK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295351)

CHECK out Paypal will steal your money, or help other do it! BEWARE!

Privacy concerns (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295352)

While commercial monopoly of these public records are definitely not a good thing. Neither is absolute open access. Because these databases contain so much personal information that a friend of mine who had access to the database was absolutely alarmed. I think it would be great if there is a public abstract service that take out the personal information but preserve the legal arguments so that it gives the public a snap shot of legal arguments in cases of interest.

Jesus (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295354)

You're a bunch of fucking whiners. They don't have a monopoly on the documents; they're private companies and they spent the money to archive the material for their own interests. So fuck off, they don't owe you shit.

Re:Jesus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295463)

Thank you, thank you, thank you. It had to be said, and this severely even.

Goddammit, shut the fuck up you whining little pussy-drippings! The world doesn't owe you a handout, and if you want to do legal research you can still do it the old fashioned way, with the law libraries and books and papercuts (owie! Mommy, I need a bandaid!!).

Rights (3, Informative)

patch-rustem (641321) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295355)

You have a right to go to the court building and see the records. You don't have any right to Westlaw and Lexis Nexis databases unless you pay. That's the American way. IANAL ;-)

Electronic Access vs No Access (5, Insightful)

MrMagooAZ (595319) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295361)

The issue presented is interesting. The information in these legal databases is published available in many libraries in book form to anyone who wants it. In Phoenix alone, I can go to the state capitol building or the law library at Arizona State University and get the text of any case (Federal or State) I want, pay the 15-cent a page copy fee (or whatever it is now) and take it with me. How is it then that this information is being kept from me by it not being available in electronic form?

EU Example (4, Informative)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295364)

I don't always agree with the EU decisions, but: .html []

This is how the EU handles it - case law in a free searchable online database.

Re:EU Example (-1, Flamebait)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295428)

Right, but over there, most everything is run by a socialist program. This is just another one of those programs. For all you know, they are changing the contents of that database(and you won't be able to get the information anywhere else).

Re:EU Example (1)

NigelJohnstone (242811) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295519)

"For all you know, they are changing the contents of that database(and you won't be able to get the information anywhere else)."

You can buy a copy in print form if you are worried about them changing it.

Or you could always mirror the site....

Re:EU Example (1)

bscanl (79871) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295531)

Right, but over there, most everything is run by a socialist program

Curse those socialist EU types.

(FYI, the EU is the secondmost pro-business area in the world after NAFTA).

And as for the slur about the EU changing the contents of the documents... Troll on.

Re:EU Example (1)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295577)

I'm sorry if I struck a raw nerve, however the comment was a generalized one. I was stating that in the event that you could not access the original data, you would have no idea if ANYONE could have altered the data. It was not meant as a troll. I however will not for a second listen to anyone claiming that the EU is a non-socialist union.

Lawyers........ (1)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295375)

Call me a commie, but I don't see why there shouldn't be heavy regulation of how much money lawyers can make. You don't want a profit motive with lawyers. Most people who go through law school do so so that they can be another tobacco lawsuit lawyer or something similar. Lawsuits have a seriously damaging effect and are most of the time frivolous. Hell most that aren't could be resolved without lawyers. Two people get up, state their claims, rebut each other and the jury decides from that. The only people in favor of letting lawyers make whatever they want to charge are the same people who see the government as the perfect hammer, fit for every nail produced by man or nature.

Re:Lawyers........ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295518)

You're a fucking, faggot commie.

Re:Lawyers........ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295602)

In Russia you have a society without many lawyers and business disputes are solved with a gun instead of a lawsuit. Lawyers make society safer by forcing things into the courts that would otherwise be resolved with violence. Lawyers are essentially talking guns. Whatever damage we lawyers do to society (and I dont agree that we do much if any) is off set by the troubles that would occur without lawyers. The Russians are rushing to open as many law schools and train as many lawyers as they can today so that business disputes are no longer resolved through car bombs and executions.

Should be free like speech AND like beer (3, Insightful)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295379)

I mean, this material is some of the most fundamental in terms of its effects on our legal system and legislative history. Access should be easy. Searchable. Free. Does a resource like this exist? Like, perhaps a web site where I can ask the system to essentially grep all case law from, say, Illinois and Arizona, containing the words "protection clause" and "eminent domain"? Would have helped with my Poly Sci minor. I had a concentration in Constitutional law, and at the time, web resources were there, but incomplete.

Re:Should be free like speech AND like beer (1)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295515)

Let me ask you this: Did you pay for your textbooks? I hope so.

Keep that in mind next time you ask for the world on a platter, for free.

Seriously though, the information is all there, for free even. You just have to do what those in Library Science call "research" on your own instead of using a search engine. That's why you have to pay for it(I'm not saying the price is right... it's far to high these days).

Re:Should be free like speech AND like beer (3, Insightful)

hastings14 (646760) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295523)

Actually, the case law is free - uncopyrighted - like in speech and like in beer - its just scattered all over the country in regional libraries and somewhat disorganized, plus the cases are without any synopsis. That is the service Lexis and Westlaw charge for - organization and distribution.

Unfortunately, this organization and distribution is a lot of work that few people care about - which is why the few people who do care about it pay a lot for access to Lexis and Westlaw. - goodl ol' suppy and demand

Perhaps what is in order is some sort of open source project, similar to the gutenberg project? There is no legal reason this can't be done... The matierial (without the exception of the synopsis part) is not copyrighted or restricted in any way...

Alpha Centauri holds true. (2, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295389)

'Westlaw and LexisNexis are closing the door on information'

"Beware of he who denies you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master."--Commissioner Pravin Lal, U.N. Declaration of Rights.

Re:Alpha Centauri holds true. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295592)

Westlaw and LexisNexis are not 'closing the door on information' - they are closing the door on free access to the indexing services that they spent money to devlope. The information is still out there and available for free.

It's the value add (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295391)

These companies supply a service. They don't have to give it out to anyone that wants it...they have the right to restrict it however they want.

The information can be gotten in other ways, not just through Lexus/Nexus.... Sure, it's easier to do it that way, but THEY created that easy of use, and if they don't want to sell it to libraries so people can get it for free, they don't have to.

It's a business! (1)

gmajor (514414) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295407)

It's a business not a charity! They take the mountain of public data and sell the data in an accessible way.

This is capitalism. If the idea is really that great, then start a own company that provides a cheap alternative to the public. If the public approves, you will thrive.

Also the quote at the beginning of the article, "Democracies die behind closed doors" is a bit misplaced. The judge was not talking about access to law databases, and it should not be stretched to imply that.

spoken like a true socialist (2, Insightful)

Mr. White (22990) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295409)

I hate to break it to you Melissa Bar, but LN and WL databases don't magically put themselves together. Anyone with an inking of computer knowledge understands what a major acomplishment this is and how much time and effort they took to set up and maintain.

If you want free information, go to a law library. Bam. Free information. But don't expect every great and important service to be free just because it "restricts access" to freeloaders.


d3v (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295410)

hi d3v


Re:d3v (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295416)

hi mx

Re:d3v (0)

Mongr (238) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295443)


both of you


Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295507)

The plural of 'putz' is 'putzes'. Putz.

Re:d3v (-1)

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* ejke H :3 ejke
#warez-galore siuol H :3 Siuol
#wareznorth smithmatt H :3 Matt Smith
* Andy_C H :3 w0w0w
#isociety MickyKnox H+ :3 mickeyknox
* xgiv H :3 xgiv
#wgate666 vyadqo H@ :3 vyadqo
#Mp3FullAlbums Zoso_lz4 H+ :3 Fred Zeppelin
* sxrjs H :3 sxrjs
#toronto candybrb H :3 hi
#movieland asadsfdsf H :3 root me
* fuebiq H :3 fuebiq
#0-day-warez luppo H :3 JOE DED
#warez-central ItalGuy H :3 - ShellsX Internet Services
* nails H :3 thesnail
#Solaris [Omega] G@ :3 Vibhu
#quickwarez KhuzFTP1 H+ :3 Khuz
#toronto AWolfInSh H :3 bong
#doom-mp3 DomovynA H@ :3 DomovynA
#absoluteiso SIDESHOW H+ com :3 me
#romanialibera AnucSun H :3 HelloKittyAngel
#ottawa usedless H@ :3 Useless Bastard
#asian WyseGuy H :3 whatttt
#urbanvibez OverKi|| H@ :3 who's care
#vobvideo heydaddy H@ :3 john
#vcd-iso acb2 H+ :3 lkjlkj
#mp3albums DD-Mulder H+ :3 foxmulder
#psi_palatium }PsiBOT{ H@ :3 PsiBOT
#ottawa SeNzFaNz H+ :3 mandm
#movieland shookones H :3 shook
#j.lo Aashanti H@ :3 Aashanti
* upnrn H :3 upnrn
#21+Trivia&FunFlirts Mr_E_Man H@ :3 Wulf Mueller
* majortom H :3 PlayharD
#mp3oldies deoneer H :3 herromann
#mp3passion JBG5000 H :3 JohnnyB
#punkmp3 DV8_ H :3 Mr. Dee. V. Eight
* pOIZOn H ^beer^ :3 Night
#mp3passion ouioash H :3 Buh
#intim-net tyby H+ :3 _-=Protected By tyby_oo7=-_
#mp3passion MollyMaid H :3 MollyMaid
#isotown Trebas H+ :3 GOOGLE SUCKS!!!
#mp3_blackdeath r-penguin H :3 R-pengin
#buzz-- frintin H :3 frintin
* uye H :3 lhbanbar anixf
#gamingzone Raiden H@ :3 Raiden@Home
#morrisburg CrapAway H@ :3 no
* arizm H :3 arizm
* hledyv H :3 hledyv
#cebu `MaViS_ H :3 watcha
* twotrees H :3 |df
#toronto Tukito H :3 ***
#p4k17z3r03 kvae H@ :3 kvae
* WinterFex H :3 AnswerBook v1.2.22 (
* Hermia H :3 Majik
#gayvideos recbert H :3 recbert
* jofc H :3 bjntyero ajsaj
#mp3passion Discount_ H :3 Double J
#smallville-high asdfasdf3 H :3 Peter
#political Fundament H :3 acemc
#divxvault Devilnut H :3 skas
* unhgi H :3 unhgi
* Vulva H :3 Marge
#divx MuD H :3 Polaris IRC with Hotzi[NM]s Changes
#battlerap briT-ChAn G :3 loughEed
#Blu3|army Triveeeee H :3 jewinoven
#wee Nejifer G :3 nejifer
#warez-central Jin H :3 N/A
#isociety EXP-626 H+ :3 Vince
#freemovies Dukeklown H+ :3 mtbmaniak
#bras BNC-[6124 H :3 Black-Zombie
#bsd_collective B-4 H :3 Private
#FAST-MOVIES wolf2103 H :3 wolf2103
#terahertz perpetual H :3 perpetualn
* yipu H :3 yipu
#terahertz hixandidr H :3 rashmied
#abadzia kkdu H :3 kkdu
#freak'nwarez Scotsman H :3 Tiger WoodZ
#wareznorth casper21 H :3 casper21
#buzz-- mushlot H :3 mushlot
#pinoymusik ^allen H+ :3 server
#mp3download DieGo`m2v H+ :3 I Luv No Name
#ottawa Am0k`- H+ :3 Macabre
#mp3oldies tunesrus H+ :3 Jeff Gauthier
* kmcnih H :3 kmcnih
#Vancouver-Free Molsen H :3 Molsen
#divx4free JEJonedd H :3 J Peterman
#toronto CanadaMan H :3 xxx
#adult_flirt_room SwtCdnGal G+ :3 fragile..handle with care
#BlueGrass tyopman H :3 kakjwk
#UpperCanada JangoFett H@ .com :3 BobaFett
#SD-Recruit SD-Banned G+ :3 john blackshore
#moime _{Tril}_ H :3 World
* rigboptd H :3 rigboptd
#Free-Style Whip`Me H@ :3 I am f*f !
#sex-on-the-beach ShUtGoNe H :3 hi ha cowboy
#bras BZT-[1094 H :3 Black-Zombie
#erathia macguard H@ :3 Your Bot
* espao H :3 espao
* awdrbm H :3 awdrbm
#Canada metoo H :3 Bilbo
* slbn H :3 feywv odas
#divx-movies frydude H :3 pardeep
#isotown Dimeboy H m :3 Dimeboy
#mp3oldies eskape H@ :3 eskape
#constanta canadianu H :3 Bogdan B
* kgxojd H IceStylez] :3 kgxojd
#triviabites Type-Zero H@ :3 #grand-central
#x-dcc trickdadd H :3 trickdaddy93
#lpsg [M-Mzzzz] H@ :3 M-M
* yxiq H :3 yxiq
#ftpwarez Cipher H :3 Cipher
#audiobookz run4b H :3 Home User
* vkgoxgmv H :3 lvmbxdyv sqpqa
#gaytoronto gearAWAY H :3 =)
* wcqowk H :3 wcqowk
#fordot _Cobra_ H@ :3 Foxmotorsport
#guanacos GeRaRdItO H :3 Palabra Viva
* twyi H :3 twyi
#bsd_collective fd0 H@ :3 I
#xxxparadise tc-kalciu H@ :3 6yu
* tbwq H :3 tbwq
#stfu12345 {ACiD_Hig H IceStylez] :3 SexPussy
* pcdbzx H :3 pcdbzx
* stinger16 H :3 Alex Soltan
#freak'nwarez javaheads H :3 Hector
* odrejq H :3 odrejq
* rvhoa H :3 rvhoa
#audioiso inf0tr8r H@ :3 inf0tr8r
#divx-movies Altec99 H :3 Hibiki
#gaytoronto Royal^1 H :3 LoneGuy
#x-dcc goodoldda H :3 kevin dennis
* aafx H :3 aafx
**rogers*.com End of /WHO list.
WHO Too many lines in the output, restrict your query

Should be open source (1)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295419)

I personally think the data should be open source.

Let the companies profit over providing servers to house them, and ways to access them (search etc.)

The data should be publically available as txt files and pdf so that anyone who wants can access them as they would RFC's and such.

A better resource for the layman (5, Informative)

Superfreaker (581067) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295424)

My roomate who is a corp lier in NYC uses when he is doing casual research, since he normally has to bill his Lexus time out to a client at a huge fee.

Google Law anyone?

"The only thing I enjoy more than doing the crossword puzzel, is actually finishing it."

Re:A better resource for the layman (1)

M.C. Hampster (541262) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295542)

Google Law anyone?

I'm sure these three words strike absolute terror into the hearts of the owners of Lexus Nexus and WestLaw.

Quit Whining (2, Interesting)

ajakk (29927) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295426)

You can get access to case law from the courts themselves. Westlaw and Lexis provide a service allowing people to get this case law electronically and indexed very well. Don't we support companies value adding services to free information and charging for it? Isn't that the entire basis of the GNU public license. Some courts are putting their decisions online, where you can get it as well. But Westlaw and Lexis employ people to put all of this information together in a database, index it, and write abstracts. What is wrong with them charging for that?

Just part of the larger picture... (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295433)

This is just part of the larger picture. The government believes that the american people should be treated like little babies, with everything filtered through a specific viewpoint. This is in line with the fact that courts want to make it hard for people to actually read what is going on in courts, and to have to hear about it in the mainstream press, if they deem it worthy of little babies' attention. It's more an issue of control than anything else. Imagine if *gasp* we could read about all the things the U.S. government has done, without telling us! Oh, the horror! Better not let poor little snookums know about the little peccadilloes daddy's done in the name of democracy, freedom, and everything.
*Ahem* anyway, why would american's want to learn about what decisions the courts are making? Go back to your regularly scheduled trash on that tube in your house, isn't Judge Judy good enough for you?
OK I admit I'm being a troll.. Oh well. Blame it on the code orange alert =P

Not really.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295436)

Without going into the debate over whether lawyers suck, etc... In the article, the author gives 2 competing services that libraries can utilize that are in direct competition. While the author may not like Lexis or WestLaw, there are other options available online, not the mention the old tried and true way of getting your ass down to the courthouse and using the law library there!!! I have never been in a courthouse that didn't have a publicly available law library.

Trolling as an artform.... (4, Insightful)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295439)

I hope that Ms. Barr realizes that she is a troll, but sadly most do not even know what they are doing.

Lexis Nexus and Westlaw don't own a monopoly on the law, but they do have a monopoly on publishing it via the internet. The only thing that I would like to see is ability for more companies to be able to publish the law, creating competition for these seach engines.

It's expensive to keep all that data online , easily referenced, and searchable. But that doesn't mean that they should be able to gouge us. More competition in this area would be good.

Also, these guys should really talk to google, Lexis Nexus lets you search for free, (though payment is required for viewing). What about a search on Google that mixed references to the law in with your normal search results?

Democracy?? Hardly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295450)

There are two "darks" that need to be immediately addressed:

1. Your mom's warm moist twat wrapped around my dick, in bed, in the dark.

2. Darkies to use their cell phones in a movie theater.

One of the above is bad, one is good. They both smell bad. Both a movie and your mom cost under $10.

Need a service? Expect to pay for it. (3, Insightful)

morpheus 2001 (594709) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295451)

I find this article to be just a bit whiny. Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw are not hijacking caselaw. Anyone that needs to access the caselaw can go into any library at a lawschool and search through the many, many, many indicies to find the cases and law reviews that they need to gain access to. I find it amazing that people expect to get access to something for free, especially when there has been a huge expense in creating the infrastructure to provide these resources. 15-20 years ago EVERY lawyer had to "look in the books" to find the caselaw that they wanted to cite. Now, it is easier, because of computerized search engines.

Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw are not like google, where google just creates a large cache of webpages. Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw also provide analyses of the various cases in their databases, as well as a list of every case that has ever cited the case that you are currently read and whether those cases agreed or disagreed with the outcome. The citatations can be extremely important to have because a lawyer does not want to cite a case that has been overruled by a higher court. To provide this service takes money, alot of money. It takes alot of employees to manually check everything is typed in perfectly and it takes alot of computer equipment to run the who database.

Building a business on publlic information (2, Interesting)

hrieke (126185) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295455)

There are plently of companies which do this with public data, not just WestLaw, LexisNexis, who are the largest in their field.

The problem is this: The government either outsources the electronic publication of their information, or these companies hired people to go out and scan the public documents.
If it is the latter, then they have every right to charge access to their database- they've complied the data on their dime! However, if the government outsourced the publication, then the database should fall into public domain.

I recall one other database which did title searches on property, which were built completely from public data, and was sold back to the county and state because such a tool did not exisit until then, and to redevelop such a tool wasn't worth the effort (at the time). The data was public domain, but the relationships inside the DB was not.

it's the rendering that's copyrighted (5, Insightful)

jqh1 (212455) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295457)

In the early nineties, I worked on a website: the Legal Information Institute [] , which is still going strong, I think. Our goal was to provide public legal info for free. We got our opinions straight from the courts, and (at least then) maintained local copies of legislative text (eg, US Code).

Lexis and Westlaw were going strong back then, too. As tempting as it may have been to just lift their versions of the documents we wanted to publish, we didn't. Their versions were copyrighted, just like a map maker can copyright a map. Following with that analogy, their versions (I believed) even contained intentional, hopefully harmless typographical errors to prove up theft. They also added value by providing analysis and indexing (keyword, etc.) that were totally absent from the public text.

So the point is -- contribute! There are dis-aggregated (free) sources for most of the public information anyone could want. The trick is bringing them together and providing useful analysis. We've done (IMO) a great job of that at LII, and there are other sites as well. When you start to appreciate the labor involved in providing such a service, you start to see why Lexis and Westlaw charge...

Huh? (2, Insightful)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295460)

I'm afraid I don't understand this complaint. I can go down to my local state courthouse, wherein is housed a law library, which is publicly accessible, and avail myself of anything that West pubishes. I don't have to be an attorney to get in; the only difference between this and a public library is that you can't check anything out. I can even get printouts and copies made at the cost of reproduction only. There's a librarian there to help find stuff, although there's a plethora of signs reiterating the obvious - that they cannot offer legal advice.

Sorry, but nust be said (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295466)

All your words are belong to us.

Paying for convenience (3, Insightful)

Nurlman (448649) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295467)

This article is a misdirected rant. It is beyond dispute that Lexis, Westlaw, et al. do not own any copyright to public records-- i.e. the actual text of the case decisions. What they do own-- and rightly charge for-- are enhancements they provide: case summaries, research aids, and, yes, the text in a searchable electronic database. It costs them money to develop these aids, and there's nothing wrong with charging for them.

The public is not deprived of access to the actual law-- every law school, almost every courthouse, and many large universities have collections of case reporters, statutes, and other legal materials in book form. Are they as easy to search as an electronic database? No. But they are available and can be used without charge, and, in the hands of a knowledgable person, used as effectively (if not more so*) as databases.

Contrary to the author's position, the internet has made the law much more accessible to regular people than it was a decade ago. Free databases may not have all of the old cases that pay services do, but they represent a huge step forward when compared to pre-internet days. Moreover, for most people untrained in the law, old caselaw is of much less use than current decisions.

*Databases like Lexis and Westlaw are, in some ways, harmful to non-lawyers. It is easy to simply plug words into a search query and assume that the result is reflective of the law on a particular issue. In fact, careful analysis of legal precedent is difficult, and to the untrained, legal databases can yield results that are more misleading than traditional book research, where points of law in a particular category were grouped together, allowing a researcher to see the development of trends or dissenting views.

Slightly unfair... (1)

bscanl (79871) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295470)

LN, like they say themselves, provide business solutions.

If you think your state should provide edited
copies of their court procedings, go and vote for somebody who'll put something like that in place, as opposed to those rabidly pro-business types who'll happily favour near monopoly free market solutions for ongoing campaign contributions.

I guess a searchable federal library is what you're looking for here.

It doesn't matter if it's restricted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295471)

because nobody can understand it anyway. The stuff we refer to as "the law" is an impenetrable maze of barely-English in which lawyers frolic, nothing more. Nobody can make sense of it.

Case law should be freely searchable (2, Insightful)

yppiz (574466) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295475)

Case law is too important for there not to be a cheap and convenient electronically searchable index. Access - inexpensive and convenient access - is crucial.

Either Lexis and WestLaw should do the right thing here, or the government should invest in putting cases on-line at least so Google can index them.

--Pat /

crap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295477)


Public vs. University Libraries (2, Informative)

Raetsel (34442) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295498)

When I went to college, the entire school was eligible for the university's Lexis-Nexis site license. This didn't mean just the law school... this meant everybody. Software was available that I could have loaded on my PC, and I could have searched from my dorm room.

The university's library computers (and computer labs) had the software on them as well.

Now here's the interesting part -- if you were a resident of the surrounding towns (not affiliated with the university in any other way!), you were eligible to use the library -- and all its' resources.

Yes, that included Lexis-Nexis. (And JAMA, and The Lancet, and a hundred other publications that cost more than some cars.)

I have no illusions -- Lexis-Nexis was getting a considerable amount of money for allowing such use... far more than they'd ever be able to wring out of a public library. The university needed the subscription, it was just a happy circumstance that everyone else benefited.

Here's to libraries with deep pockets.

Supply and Demand (1)

PingPongBoy (303994) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295500)

High price causes increased supply. Anyone who needs to earn some cash can publish transcripts.

They hook you early..... (1)

FuddChuckles (581257) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295506)

Westlaw and Lexis are very savvy business enterprises. Through deals with the ABA and/or my individual law school (I'm not sure which), I was required to take instructional classes from both Westlaw and Lexis representatives on how to use their services. Both systems are provided free for law students, as well. Law students form dependencies on Westlaw and Lexis very early, and many rely on the much speedier web interfaces to legal research over the cumbersome task of trudging through dozens of dusty law books (Note to /.ers: Can you blame us? Both services are fantastic from and end-user perspective).

By the time you graduate, you're hooked. The thought of going back to manual research would be like asking an engineer to go back to his Commodore 64. Icky.

I don't think you can blame Wetslaw or Lexis for being shrewd about this. Besides, all the information is available offline in law libraries. It's just in a format that puts you at a decided disadvantage.


The info is still there (1)

ranolen (581431) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295514)

All the information in these programs are still available to the general public. All these programs do is make searching for the info a little easier. You can still go to the law libraries and find the cases in print.

Stop bitching and go GET it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5295528)

I'm a college student, and we've got Lexis-Nexis and all the other stuff. The neato thing is it's IP based. Soooo, if the school's got a proxy ( or you've found one) you just redirect to the proxy and get free Nexis searches.

I cant say what School I'm with, but I can say this: Search the block (Indiana University). It's a gold mine of proxies, FTP's, SMB shares, and other things.

Whether its illegal to do this is if you go to the school or not (its included with tuitution). Anybody who downloads unpaid MP3's, uses warez or whatnot shouldnt care.

Compared to other things Lexis Nexis sells.. (1)

SacredNaCl (545593) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295533)

I have to say Meah.

Nexis has files on over 1.6 billion people on earth -- everything from what kinds of pizzas your ordered, how you paid for it, what you had on your last one -- to credit information, sweepstakes entries, court records, voting registration, sometimes even travel information, often they collect corporate applications for employment and resumes "truth maintainence" as well.

In comparison to "So they want you to pay per page on case law" -- their other activities make them a far more sinister corporation. Of course, your disgruntal ex spouse with the restraining order & .357 has to pay them a fee to get your new address. So does the mafia hit man. It's priced at a level that makes it merely a corporate tool for enslaving the masses. Plus companies love that they can make a few bucks selling your data to them.

Don't think your enemies can't find you with it either. Paid your taxes? Got a credit card? Bank account? Registered to vote? Entered a sweepstakes? Mailed in a warranty registration card? Bought a car? Bought a house (deed records)? Live in one of those states that sells drivers license data? Subscribe to any magazines? BMG record club? Bought a Domino's pizza? Even the act of filing the restraining order ...searchable. Stayed at a major hotel/motel chain? Rented an apartment that required a credit check? -- People have been hunted down and killed this way. Abortion doctors, lawyers, spouses, people that owed money to loan sharks, witnesses...etc

You can make your phone number unlisted, change your name, move, open up new accounts -- and their service will even index the changes. So don't think that will help you either.

Onto the topic at hand.. Why isn't Uncle Sam indexing the case files and entering them all to be searchable over the internet?

Solution... (0, Flamebait)

argoff (142580) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295538)

Just have one library purchase the documents and make coppies for everyone else anonymously over a p2p network.

Libraries are open for abuse (1)

jj_johny (626460) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295539)

The reason that Nexis Lexis and Westlaw don't allow libraries to sign up is the obvious theft that will occur. They have product and they produce and sell it profitably but the library business is a loser.

And sure you can put up your own version if you have lots of money for servers and bandwidth. It would be an interesting exercise to see how far computer prices and bandwidth would have to come down before you could have a Google like service or one that would be a flat rate.

Get it yourself.... (1)

thefinite (563510) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295545)

IAALS (I am a law student). There is no restriction on the actual court documents. You can get them free from a variety of sources. In fact, odds are, if you go to your local law school library, there is probably a referrence assistant sitting at a desk who would love to help you find exactly what you need. (It is a slightly complex system simply because there are *so* many documents to catalog.)

However, to call it a right to get it from Westlaw or LexisNexis (who pays for the hosting, the translation of the documents to electronic format, the additional features such as cross-referrencing, case history, and search tracking, in addition to having access to hundreds of law journals that are not public domain), ignores all the investment they put into it. Not to be a jerk, but if you think it should be free, you can go do it yourself and bear the cost of it.

I am the first to admit that there is too much money and greed in the legal system. Westlaw and LexisNexis are not to blame for that.

legal information in the freemarket (1)

Elwood Blues (127255) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295547)

She's really asserting a right to purchase what she wants, at the cost she wants it. As a law student and a law clerk for a county court judge (in Ohio), I have seen where and how legal information is available.

LexisNexis and West provide FULL access to almost every newspaper, court case, statute, and regulation to all law students, free of charge. Why do they do this? So when you graduate, you're only used to getting information from them, and then will be willing to pay to get it.

But what is she demanding reasonable access to? Full text copies of opinions? Keeping in mind that opinions are generally NOT published initially in electronic text (signed hardcopies are the norm), rather they are scanned, proofread, and annotated by any of the electronic publishers. More often than not, these opinions are online through West or Lexis within hours of their print release. None of these services come inexpensively, and offering free public access to them, while a socially good thing, doesn't necessarily follow as a deserved right.

Furthermore, libraries, and the public in general are not precluded from access to the cases and research (perhaps, just her library). Law libraries still provide the hardcopies of books, which are index searchable and provide cross-references to other cases.

Ohio, the state which the article's author is apparently in charge of some library system, even facilitates online searching of appellate-level cases since 2000 (don't expect the state to transcribe those old appellate cases). Their website is located at:

I really think she's complaining of the lack of a comprehensive service like LexisNexis or West that could be provided to the public. Given the associated expense for what they do and keeping in mind the information she seeks is already available, I find the point of the article is just a minor complaint.

Unable to access? (0)

benntop (449447) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295555)

If you need access to Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw more often than not you can walk into any public university computer lab and search to your heart's content. At the University of Kansas any computer in the University's subnet is able to access Lexis-Nexis - including the dorms.

What WestLaw provides (1)

GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295561)

I asked a lawyer about this the other night. He said that WestLaw in particular offers laws with references to cases. Kind of a cross reference. They pay a lot of lawyers to sit around and write stuff to add value to their content. It's not simply a search engine for court records, there's a lot of value add. That's why WestLaw can charge $300 a month per lawyer.

I don't think it's the same thing as bottling up our case law and making it inaccessable. Anyone can create a competing service, but I think you'd have a lot of work cut out trying to match the value that WestLaw provides.

Open Source vs. Capitalism (3, Insightful)

M.C. Hampster (541262) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295562)

Why is it that so many proponents of OSS don't carry their philosophy over to free economic activity? Rather than complain about how Westlaw and Lexus Nexus should lower prices or give their information for free, why don't you start up your own searchable database? Why not get a group together to do so? That's how it works in capitalism folks.

If they truly are "gouging" us with prices, and the entire service could be offered considerably cheaper, then offer it yourself!

What Westlaw and Lexis Actually Do (5, Insightful)

czarneki (622927) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295568)

Westlaw and Lexis provide an incredibly valuable service: they make the millions of judicial opinions actually useful for lawyers. Basically, they are like the google for judicial documents, except that in order to index all this information, they have to use teams of lawyers rather than pigeon clusters. We do not yet have sufficient technical knowledge to index judicial opinions, and so for now this process is very labor-intensive.

For example, Westlaw and Lexis have teams of lawyers to read over every decision as soon as it's handed down. They have to parse through the legalese to make a judgment about whether the case narrowed some precedent or broadened it. They need to find the most important passages in the opinion and put those clippings into conceptual pigeonholes (the "West Topic and Key" classification system defies comprehension). They need to write little summaries for each of these important passages so that lawyers glancing through thousands of query results will know whether something is relevant (these "Headnotes" are difficult to write). None of these tasks are easy. Not only can we not yet automate them, but a person not trained as a lawyer won't even recognize the relevant things to pick up on. Westlaw and Lexis really do spend an enormous amount of *expensive* human capital (these lawyers don't come cheap) to do the human indexing of the semantic web of legal documents, and that's what they are charging for. Law firms gladly pay up because using the index form Westlaw or Lexis gives you such an advantage over your adversary if he's stucking doing research with law books that he has no chance. The big lawyers these days never touch law books -- they are too disorganized and slow.

Thus, these companies have not "hijacked" the actual collection of case opinions. Even if they wanted to, they can't. Judicial opinions and statutes, like other governmental work products, enjoy no copyright protection whatsoever. This is why you are free to post as many gigabytes of Supreme Court opinions for free downloading as you like.

But just getting the opinions is useless. Either we come up with a technical means to index these documents as effectively as the teams of lawyers at Westlaw (very difficult) or we decide that in the public interest we need to use some of our tax money to support a public interest effort to make a similar database for the public (even more difficult).

And on the other other hand (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295571)

Some cities and jurisdictions are finding out that maybe not all cases and information should be easily searchable on the web.

Consider a divorce case. Names, addresses, financial records, employment records, etc, etc.
Home assesment value, taxes.
Now match that against the (sometimes) public bulding permits. Home floorplans and dimensions.

Armed with a little research from the comfort of his own home, a would be burgular or stalker could case the home of a recently divorced woman, figuring out vulnerable access points, when she's at work...a photo from Terraserver [] , and you can sometimes see fences and tree lines.
Do the job with no one the wiser.

Some things should be hard to get.

Yet another example ... (1)

WetCat (558132) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295583)

that US legal system is flawed.

Case law is trying to make system consistent:
a judgement made by one judge should be the same
as a judgement made by another.
But as time passes, case file becomes huge and
harder to search, thus making an unnessesary strain on legal system and its accessibility.

Case law should be repealed at all.
if that happens, you'll need to get only the
law texts itself, and that will be enough.

Timely access (1)

henben (578800) | more than 11 years ago | (#5295597)

The responses saying that you can just look up this information yourself are missing the point - if you are representing yourself or researching a legal threat you have received to see if it's worth hiring a lawyer, accessing this sort of information in a timely way is critical.

If these companies can't provide access at reasonable rates (note that the libraries ARE offering to pay for the companies' work), isn't there a case for the government to (threaten to) provide a similar free service, for the public good? That would incidentally put the companies out of business, but that's too bad. They're basing their services on documents that the state provides.

Of course, the government would never do this in a country where commercial publishers can shut down government sites [] just by asking nicely.

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