Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Open Access to Government Documents ...or, "Federal Court Documents: Even Google Can't Find Them"

In honor of Open Access Day yesterday, I gave a talk at Berkman about the federal court's policy regarding public access to electronic records. You can watch it here or download the slides here. The description for the talk was:

In the past twenty years, a remarkable number of government documents have been put online. In some cases, these documents are made easily and freely accessible. In others, technology has failed to overcome barriers or even created new barriers to access. One particular subset of documents -- opinions, dockets, and the full public record in federal court cases -- remain behind a pay wall. Although the U.S. Government cannot hold copyright in documents it creates, it has for a long time long charged for the cost of creating and maintaining these documents. While the courts understandably seek to pay for the services they provide, this talk will argue that there is an alternative path in which the public benefits far outweigh the costs. Stephen Schultze makes a dynamic case for free access to government documents, in honor of Open Access Day 2008.

Also, check out this great essay by James Grimmelmann, discussing the Oregon statutes battle, as well as his recent lecture on the issues more generally.

Also, the European Transparency Initiative was mentioned during my talk, as well as this Dutch report.

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