Public.Resource.Org and Creative Commons announced that they've released the first batch of case material in their free case law archive. Yesterday's release encompases over 1.8 million volumes of federal case law, including all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754.
As we've noted in the past, lawyers have long anticipated -- and hoped for -- such a case archive because court decisions and statutes are not copyrightable. In light of this, the files are all marked with the new Creative Commons CCØ label, indicating that the contents are works of the United States Government and are free of copyright or other restrictions for their dissemination and reuse.
Equally impressive, all of the files were converted to the XHTML standard and make extensive use of CSS style sheets to allow developers to build new search engines and user interfaces to access the trove of materials. According to the press release:
The cases made available to developers today will be used throughout the Internet. For example, the AltLaw service from Columbia and Colorado Law Schools has announced they will incorporate the information in their free service. Creative Commons and Public.Resource.Org are donating a copy of the data to the U.S. Courts and the Government Printing Office for their archives. A number of commercial legal research providers have announced they will also incorporate this data in their services.
The project has received generous funding from David Boies, John Gilmore, the Omidyar Network and the Elbaz Foundation. Yesterday's release is just the first step in the joint venture between Creative Commons and public.resource.org. We can't wait for the next installment.