Federal Courts OK Use of RECAP

We blogged last week about RECAP, a Firefox plugin that lets PACER users share federal court documents through a repository hosted by the Internet Archive.  There was some rumbling late last week when Paul Levy and the folks at RECAP noted that the federal courts had posted statements warning lawyers about security concerns associated with the plugin.

Over at the CL&P Blog, Levy reports that a representative of the federal courts contacted him this week to clarify that the Administrative Office of the United States Courts has no problem with lawyers using RECAP to share court documents: 

I got a call this afternoon from Michel Ishakian, the Deputy Chief for IT Policy and Budget at the Administrative Office of the United States courts.  She assured me that they have no problem with counsel using RECAP (discussed here) and that the language sent out by the Northern District of Georgia (see my update to my previous post) is the only language that she disseminated for publication.

This is great news and largely consistent with the RECAP blog's assessment of the situation after the security warnings first appeared:

[T]he court acknowledges the point we’ve made before: use of RECAP is consistent with the law and the PACER terms of use. The only potential exception is if you’ve received a fee waiver for PACER. In that case, use of RECAP could violate the terms of the fee waiver, which reads: “Any transfer of data obtained as the result of a fee exemption is prohibited unless expressly authorized by the court.” We’re not lawyers, so we don’t know if the court’s interpretation is correct, but we encourage our users to honor the terms of the fee waiver. 

For now, anyway, it seems clear now that the federal court system has no objection to ordinary fee paying attorneys using RECAP to share documents for free. Three cheers for the government doing the right thing here.


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