Access to Gov't Information

Oregon Claims Copyright in Its Statutes -- Well, Sort Of

Just last week, I was ruminating on the viability of state claims of copyright in government records. At the time, I was pretty confident that a state wouldn't be crazy enough to claim copyright in its own statutes, both because caselaw suggests this would be legally invalid and because it would be shoddy public policy.

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The Smoking Gun Does the Dirty Work, Finds the Gems Others Miss

The New York Times just ran a fascinating article on The Smoking Gun, a website dedicated to providing "documents--cool, confidential, quirky--that can't be found elsewhere on the Web." The three-person investigative shop in mid-town Manhattan consistently finds -- and publishes -- court documents, government records, and other esoterica that it finds through

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CMLP Launches New Legal Guide Section on Access to Government Information

Back in January, we began rolling out the Citizen Media Law Project's Legal Guide.

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A Tale of Two Prisoners

This week, a judge ruled that Allan Parmelee, an inmate at the McNeil Island Corrections Center in Washington state, can continue to request public records under the state Public Records Act. According to the Associated Press, Parmelee has requested hundreds of public records about the state troopers, prosecutors, judges, prison guards, and others who incarcerated him for firebombing two cars.

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Oklahoma Curtails Online Access to Court Records

Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court adopted new rules governing public access to court records, cutting off all public access to court records via the Internet and limiting public access to other information that has been available in the past.

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PreCYdent: Another Useful Resource for Free Online Judicial Decisions

Below is a video explaining how to use PreCYdent, a new resource for free online court opinions. The coverage of the database is quite impressive -- Supreme Court cases going back to 1759, federal appellate cases going back to 1950, and a good number of federal district court cases since 2004. The site also has a sophisticated search engine and lots of neat Web 2.0 features like a browser widget and a Facebook application.

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Pennsylvania Reforms Open Records Law, Loses Distinction as Worst in the Country

Now that the Wikileaks storm has started to subside, it's time for us to catch up on some items that deserve attention (but haven't been getting it from the CMLP lately).

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed a bill that significantly reforms the state's open records law, previously regarded as one of the worst in the country.

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Federal Case Law Archive Now Online and Free

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.

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