The site offers access to about 170,000 decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Appellate courts going back to the early 1990s.
Altlaw.org, a new search engine for federal case law, debuted on Thursday, promising greater public access to other public, but nonetheless largely pay-per-view, online legal records.
"It's been more than 10 years since the start of the Internet revolution, and case law is one area that has not budged," said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, in a statement. "Somebody has to take the initiative. We want to open the law to the public."
Colorado Law School professor Paul Ohm co-created the site with Wu. He wrote the code that downloaded cases from over a dozen court Web sites nightly and did so with the intention that others would make use of the case law, even mash it up.
"The touchstone of AltLaw.org is openness, and this means that not only will users be able to search cases, but they'll also be able to make copies of all of the cases in our database to reuse or remix in any way that they'd like," said Ohm in a statement.
Though court documents are public records, two legal research services -- Westlaw and LexisNexis -- dominate the legal marketplace. Both services, owned by Thomson and Reed Elsevier respectively, provide access to court documents for a fee.
With the advent of Altlaw.org and public.resource.org, a related effort by author and Internet benefactor Carl Malamud, these legal industry incumbents face competition from open, free information services, just like other information industry market segments.
Altlaw.org provides access to about 170,000 decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Appellate courts going back to the early 1990s. Ohm and Wu expect the site's database will grow over time.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
IT Strategies to Conquer the CloudChances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.