Can Crowdsourcing Complete The Job Aaron Swartz Started In Freeing PACER?

from the would-be-nice dept

We've talked about the importance of carrying on the work that Aaron Swartz began, and the global efforts at hackathons to do just that. However, a few have started working on very specific proposals to try to carry on some of Aaron's work. Specifically, they're trying to build on the effort over which he was first investigated by the feds: his attempts to free up public domain court documents that are locked up behind PACER's paywall.

For the uninitiated, despite being public domain, court filings are locked up in an incredibly antiquated electronic document system that the federal courts all use called PACER. Anyone can get access to PACER (though using the system, which has never been an example of modernity, takes some figuring out), but it costs $0.10 per page to download any documents. That's what Aaron was trying to "free."

While his initial effort, making use of a "trial" at certain libraries allowing free access to PACER was shut down, his downloads did become the crux of the RECAP project, a browser plugin built a few years ago by some Princeton students, which would automatically upload any document you accessed via PACER to the Internet Archive where they could be viewed for free going forward.

Unfortunately, RECAP itself more or less stagnated after many of those behind it left Princeton. However, following Aaron's death, there have been a couple of interesting developments, driven in large part by a different Aaron, Aaron Greenspan. First, he set up three grants of $5,000 each to update the RECAP extension. It's currently only available in Firefox, but there are grants for expanding it to Chrome and to IE, while also updating the Firefox browser to cover appeals court documents. This would be huge. I tend to use PACER via Chrome, so I've been unable to contribute much to RECAP lately.

But the second part of the plan, also put in place by Greenspan, is what he's calling Operation Asymptote, to try to get lots of people to help out in freeing PACER documents. He's using the one slight exception to the $0.10 per page rule: PACER does not charge you if your total charges add up to less than $15 per calendar quarter. In other words, you can basically download 150 "pages" during a quarter for free. Now, that's not really 150 pages of court documents, since PACER also charges for searches. And, since some court documents can be pretty long, 150 pages can actually go pretty fast. But Greenspan is suggesting that if we can get a lot of people to sign up for PACER (and RECAP) and download a small amount, keeping under the $15 line, then effectively, a large group of people might free large parts of the public domain material in PACER for free (you need to have a valid credit card to sign up, but if you keep under the $15, then you don't get charged).

This is being done in association with Greenspan's PlainSite, a site which tries to make legal information as public as possible (we've linked to them in the past for their research into Intellectual Ventures' shell companies). Part of the goal is to actually pull together the details of cases worked on by "every US Attorney or Assistant US Attorney" during their career. For example, you could look at cases involving Stephen Heymann or those involving Carmen Ortiz. On the Operation Asymptote page, they even have a link that will automatically point you to cases where they're missing documents, so it's one click easy.

I have no idea if enough people will actually participate to make a difference, but after the slight hassle of signing up for a PACER account (and then a chance to witness just how poorly designed PACER is) anyone can help out for free. It seems like a worthwhile goal.


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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Keep on milking Swartz for every last morsel you can. Clearly, no other person on earth is using his tragedy for his own gains more than you. Nobody has written more articles and more words, milking it for all it's worth, than you.

    Could you be any more despicable?

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:35am

      Re:

      Keep on milking Swartz for every last morsel you can. Clearly, no other person on earth is using his tragedy for his own gains more than you. Nobody has written more articles and more words, milking it for all it's worth, than you.

      Did you ever stop, for even just a second, to think that audience of this site is interested in Aaron Swartz and his beliefs and values? I, for one, am extremely interested in this stuff.

      It's almost as if the ideas he expressed scare you. Why would that be the case?

      If y'all didn't want some sort of martyr persona brought into these debates, why did you proceed turn him into one in the first place? Apparently, forethought on your side of the fence is bit lacking.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:32am

      Re:

      MATT DAMON!

       

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      btrussell (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 12:21am

      Re:

      Don't have a cow man! It is past-your-eyes-duh

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 7:48am

    Oh, by the way. You do realize that the majority of documents on PACER are in fact copyrighted, don't you? Since most documents are supplied by the litigants and not the courts, those documents are copyrighted. So yeah, promote piracy while you're milking Swartz. Awesome. And let's not forget too how even though you're the most opinionated person on earth when it comes to copyright, you pretend at the same time that you have no opinion as to whether there should be any copyright. Nothing disgusting or dishonest about that. You're such a great person, Mike.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:00am

      Re:

      Don't be shy, ducks. Tell us how you REALLY feel.

       

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:18am

      Re:

      Does PACER pay copyright holders? If not, from their perspective, there's no difference. .

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      Oh, hai again AJ.

      Firstly, why should legal documents be protected under IP law in the first place?

      Secondly, you're posting anonymously, like me, and claiming that you have the moral high-ground. Yeah, no. You have no legs to stand on.

      Finally, the opinions of Mike on copyright are that it's flexible, dependent on the market, but rarely is it a societal positive.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 2:57pm

        Re: Re:

        Firstly, why should legal documents be protected under IP law in the first place?

        In my opinion, there's pretty much no reason for litigants filings to be copyrighted. But that doesn't change the fact that they are, which is what's relevant. Want to change the law? Work to change it. But do what Swartz did and take the law into your own hands and shit all over other people's rights.

        Secondly, you're posting anonymously, like me, and claiming that you have the moral high-ground. Yeah, no. You have no legs to stand on.

        Mike claims that he has no opinion either way on whether or not we should have any copyright. That's obviously bullshit, and he's too scared to put any skin in the game. He just wants to criticize everyone else's beliefs while pretending like he has none of his own other people can criticize. How convenient. My leg to stand on is the obvious fact that as per usual Mike is slimy and dishonest about even his most basic beliefs. The man can dish it out--and boy does he ever--but he can't take it at all. Not in the slightest.

        Finally, the opinions of Mike on copyright are that it's flexible, dependent on the market, but rarely is it a societal positive.

        He obviously has an opinion about whether we should have any copyright since he's pretty much the most opinionated person in the copyright debate that there is. He has lots of high-level vagueness that only dodges the question by saying he needs more data. Well, the real world is ongoing right now, and he's got tons of data to work with. Be a man and put some skin in the game. We all know he thinks there's pretty much no positives to copyright. No need for him to pretend like he's not anti-copyright. And I'd love to pour over in detail all the reasons why he thinks it's rarely positive, but Mike will run from that discussion just as fast as he does all the others. Not only is he dishonest and willfully blind, he's also extremely slimy. He refuses to discuss his beliefs while he spends his life shitting on everyone else's. That's pretty much all you need to know about Mike to know what kind of a person he is. Insecure and angry at the world.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 6:33pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          >In my opinion, there's pretty much no reason for litigants filings to be copyrighted. But that doesn't change the fact that they are

          Ah, so you're trying to argue the moral perspective because it's the law. You can't explain why but because it's the law, anyone who breaks it is lower than scum. Brilliant.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 6:45pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Ah, so you're trying to argue the moral perspective because it's the law. You can't explain why but because it's the law, anyone who breaks it is lower than scum. Brilliant.

            I'm saying that there probably is no need for copyright to attach to court filings drafted by litigants. Even though I see little reason for copyright there, it doesn't follow that I think it's OK for people to scrape the PACER database. Unless and until the law changes, I think we should respect other people's rights. It's wrong to decide unilaterally that someone else's rights don't matter.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So Prohibition should have persisted beyond 1933, Rosa Parks should have sat where she was supposed to and slavery should never have been abolished, because the rights of people who preferred the status quo have been irreparably harmed when people decided their rights didn't matter. Got it.

               

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 6:48pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Ah, so you're trying to argue the moral perspective because it's the law. You can't explain why but because it's the law, anyone who breaks it is lower than scum. Brilliant.

            I'm saying that there probably is no need for copyright to attach to court filings drafted by litigants. Even though I see little reason for copyright there, it doesn't follow that I think it's OK for people to scrape the PACER database. Unless and until the law changes, I think we should respect other people's rights. It's wrong to decide unilaterally that someone else's rights don't matter.

             

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      Mr. Applegate, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:28am

      Re:

      "Oh, by the way. You do realize that the majority of documents on PACER are in fact copyrighted, don't you? Since most documents are supplied by the litigants and not the courts, those documents are copyrighted."

      Says who? Cite Please!

      I don't profess to be a lawyer but guess what, unless the the court puts restrictions on it, almost everything (they do redact some things like SS#) filed with the court is a matter of public record FULL STOP.

      "Public records are documents or pieces of information that are not considered confidential."

      "With the advent of the Internet and the information age, access to public records in the United States to anyone who wishes to view them has dramatically increased. Third-parties such as the information broker industry make regular use of public records to compile profiles on millions of people that are easily accessible to anyone at the click of a mouse, and sometimes make a profit from the service of recompiling and mining the data."

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 2:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Says who? Cite Please!

        I user PACER very frequently. Most things there are filed by the lawyers, not the court. Mike is pretending like it's all public domain, even though he knows it's not. He let's all the details that get in the way slide by, of course. It's Mike we're talking about.

         

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      Reality Check, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      Dear Mr. Coward.

      If you had at least a 3rd grade reading comprehension you would know that Mr. Masnick has plenty of opinions about copyright. Hell, most of his blog is dedicated to discussions about Intellectual Property in one way or another.

      But don't let your lack of understanding or basic reasoning skills stand in the way of your inane, tiresome mumbling.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:24am

        Re: Re:

        Nope. Mike just last night admitted that he has no opinion whatsoever on whether or not there should be any copyright. Ask him.

         

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          silverscarcat (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Care to give a link for proof?

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 5:04pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Nope. Mike just last night admitted that he has no opinion whatsoever on whether or not there should be any copyright. Ask him.

          That is not at all what I said. For those who want to read what I actually said, check it out:

          http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130121/14473121743/global-hackathons-prepared-to-carry-fo rward-work-aaron-swartz.shtml#c377

          I said that I think today's system is clearly broken, but I don't think we have enough data to know what the perfect system is. That is not "having no opinion" on the copyright system.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 5:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I said that I think today's system is clearly broken, but I don't think we have enough data to know what the perfect system is. That is not "having no opinion" on the copyright system.

            I didn't say you had no opinion about "the copyright system." In fact, I've said repeatedly that you're one of the most opinionated people there is on the copyright system. That's why what you're saying is unbelievable. I said you claim to have no opinion as to whether there should be any copyright. I'm not asking about the "perfect system." I'm just asking whether in your opinion there should be any copyright. That's it. You claim to have no opinion on this point, but I think everyone here knows that's not true. You're just sitting on the fence as per usual, refusing to take a position. I get it, it's a lot easier to criticize everyone else's beliefs when they can't criticize yours.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:31pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I didn't say you had no opinion about "the copyright system." In fact, I've said repeatedly that you're one of the most opinionated people there is on the copyright system. That's why what you're saying is unbelievable. I said you claim to have no opinion as to whether there should be any copyright. I'm not asking about the "perfect system." I'm just asking whether in your opinion there should be any copyright. That's it. You claim to have no opinion on this point, but I think everyone here knows that's not true. You're just sitting on the fence as per usual, refusing to take a position. I get it, it's a lot easier to criticize everyone else's beliefs when they can't criticize yours.

              I said I had no opinion on the proper calibration. One option would be zero copyright. Other options would be a little bit of copyright. It would be totally dishonest of me to say that I think we should have no copyright system, when I have no idea if that would do a better job "promoting the progress" than a minimal system.

              So I'm still not sure what your argument is. I've stated my opinion loud and clear. You just don't like it because it doesn't agree with the straman Mike you've built up in your head.

              You seem to think that "what level of copyright" and "no copyright" are somehow mutually exclusive. That's not true at all. "no copyright" is one possible level of copyright, but I don't think there's nearly enough data to say if that would be the optimal level.

              Again. I have answered your question quite clearly and have done so multiple times. If history is any indicator, you will continue to throw a childish tantrum and lie about me.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 9:41am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I said I had no opinion on the proper calibration. One option would be zero copyright. Other options would be a little bit of copyright. It would be totally dishonest of me to say that I think we should have no copyright system, when I have no idea if that would do a better job "promoting the progress" than a minimal system.

                So I'm still not sure what your argument is. I've stated my opinion loud and clear. You just don't like it because it doesn't agree with the straman Mike you've built up in your head.

                You seem to think that "what level of copyright" and "no copyright" are somehow mutually exclusive. That's not true at all. "no copyright" is one possible level of copyright, but I don't think there's nearly enough data to say if that would be the optimal level.

                Again. I have answered your question quite clearly and have done so multiple times. If history is any indicator, you will continue to throw a childish tantrum and lie about me.


                Really? You're just playing word games, making silly points about how "no copyright" is actually a level of copyright. Stop dodging the question. Stop pretending you've given an answer. Yet you haven't at all answered the question. I still don't know whether or not you think there should be any copyright. And by "any copyright," I don't mean "no copyright." I mean that authors will actually have exclusive rights to writings. That's what I mean by "any copyright." So stop with the games.

                The question is: In your opinion, should be any copyright? You have not answered that question. Nor will you, because you're too much of a coward to actually voice an affirmative opinion as to whether we should any copyright. Stop squirming. Stop lying. Stop playing word games. Just give a straightforward and honest answer. In your opinion, should there be any copyright? Answer THAT question. Seriously, it's not hard.

                 

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:08am

      Re:

      Which is why lexus nexus and westlaw are constantly being sued for copyright infringement. Someone really should take down filesharers! Court records compilers are just dirty filthy filelockers and the worst part is they charge for access and they KNOW all these docs are copyrighted.

      Actually we may have just found those pirates making tons of money off other peoples copyright the industry has been going on about for years..

       

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      Ron, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:18am

      Re:

      Nobody here likes you!!

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      When someone brings on a court case, it becomes a public matter; in the courts.

      It means that the issue couldn't be resolved through normal means.

      By having access to this type of data, people can determine trends to find out if new laws need to be explored.

      Today, lacking a strong middle class, determining trends, and performing research, it's easier for normal people to lobby for the right kind of legal change.

      Culture has changed and regular people can perform the correct research that only the wealthy could perform in the past. It costs 10˘ per page.

      If people and companies are disclosing copyright as part of their legal issues, they shouldn't have copyrighted it in the first place. Likey that disclosure is in another disclosure system called the US Patent and Trademark Office or Library of Congress.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      Court records are just facts. Facts are not copyrightable. Any attorney who argues against this must be guilty of perjury because if they aren't facts, they are made up stories, and presenting anything other than the truth to the court is a crime.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 2:46pm

        Re: Re:

        Court records are just facts. Facts are not copyrightable. Any attorney who argues against this must be guilty of perjury because if they aren't facts, they are made up stories, and presenting anything other than the truth to the court is a crime.

        The filings from litigants are original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium, ergo, they are copyrighted. The factual content wouldn't be protected, of course, but the expression itself would be. Nothing changes just because it's filed as part of a case.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:19am

    What was being done with respect to JSTOR I find troubling. The same cannot be said for PACER, specifically for the reasons noted above. Court documents, unless sealed under a judicial order, are readily available to anyone having the time to either visit a court and deal with its clerk, or via PACER.

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      What was being done with respect to JSTOR I find troubling.


      You should read up on the academic peer review system. I've found the whole system to be troubling.

      Historically the whole academic peer review system has been blatantly one-sided, with publishers forcing scholars to give up their copyrights and/or paying to be published while turning around and charging Universities huge amounts for access (at +30% profit margins no less). Being published is a must for scholars to be accredited. The publishers have had the authors by the short hairs for centuries. Perhaps it was more acceptable when you knew your work would be in the public domain in 14 years (or possibly 28), but that isn't the case anymore thanks to Disney, is it?

      This article lays out the situation fairly well:

      http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/23/is-the-academic-publishing-industry-on-the-v erge-of-disruption

       

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        Gwiz (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:55am

        Re: Re:

        Incidentally, I would venture a guess that the reason JSTOR didn't want Aaron prosecuted once they got the data back was because they would rather the whole story of the peer review system remained quietly within the halls of academia as opposed to being plastered across mainstream media.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 10:38am

        Re: Re:

        JSTOR deals with much more than just journal articles, but even if dealt solely with journal articles I would still assert that what Mr. Swartz was doing was problematic.

        I have, as an attorney, dealt in the past with numerous journals and their overreaching terms concerning the submission of articles for possible publication. The IEEE is but one example. However, unlike most who would simply bend over and accept whatever was thrown at them, I took a hard line with the journals by insisting that at best all they would receive is a non-exclusive right to publish articles, and the authors retained the right to do whatever else they wished anent the articles. Of course, it did help that the authors with whom I worked were recognized as luminaries in their respective fields.

         

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          art guerrilla (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 11:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Of course, it did help that the authors with whom I worked were recognized as luminaries in their respective fields."

          ahhh! now, there's the rub, ain't it...
          (relatively) privileged, rich, and/or famous nekkid apes can use their high status to avoid the pettifoggery mere nobodies are subject to in a million ways...

          ...and -as a LAWyer no less!- you are suggesting that *that* system is 'okay', not just that it is what is, but that it is okay as it is ? ? ?

          here's my thing: 1. MY (and MOST people's) personal morals -GENERALLY- FAR exceed whatever bullshit 'laws' are on the books; 2. 'The Law' has become *such* a dense, unfair, tangled web that it ONLY SERVES THE INTERESTS of the puppetmasters and their parasitic puppets, er, lawyers; 3. when the results of 'enforcing' The Law is to persecute the aaron swartz's, bradley mannings, kirikaou's, etc, THEN THE LAW IS AN ASS...

          ...further, any/all parasites, er, lawyers who support such a corrupted system are complicit...

          "first thing let's do..."

          (nota bene: lawyers USED TO be a final defense we li'l peeps had against a system run by our betters; now they have been almost totally co-opted; the few 'good' lawyers standing against this unjust system of oppression are few and far between...)

          based on a true story...

          art guerrilla
          aka ann archy

          eof

           

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          Gwiz (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          JSTOR deals with much more than just journal articles, but even if dealt solely with journal articles I would still assert that what Mr. Swartz was doing was problematic.

          I can understand your view of it being problematic. I can even relate to it to some degree. I am not an anarchist whatsoever. But I do also happen do believe that acts of civil disobedience are required now and then to shed light onto unjust situations. I simply cannot shake the feeling that is exactly what Aaron was really trying to do and was prepared for what should have been reasonable consequences for his actions. The over-the-top response from the DOJ couldn't have been anticipated by any reasonable person.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      What was being done with respect to JSTOR I find troubling.


      I find the management of academic papers troubling, as it limits knowledge to those who can pay. This includes researchers in poorer countries who might be able to make use of the information to help solve some of their countries problems, if they could gain access to the knowledge locked up behind paywalls.

       

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    Paul Brinker, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:25am

    AC - Your wrong

    Legal filings are not covered by copyright, they are in effect filling out paperwork, which is not creative but simply functional. Unless someone is trying to make art out of a court document it wont happen.

    Now the underlying items in dispute may be under copyright, but the legal system requires you free those items for use in your court battle. AKA you must prove your case, and people in the future must be able to use your case to prove there case as well.

    As such the system has even said that all documents are public domain, the only reason PACER exists is to put a paywall in front of the documents and to pay for the server's and staff who keep the system running. Even if you downloaded the entire PACER system today, new items will be added as new case law is added by our court system thus a simple subscription model is not a bad deal if you work in the legal field.

    Really we should be fighting to demand PACER get with the times and modernize its cost structure to be more sane.

     

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      Mr. Applegate, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:40am

      Re: AC - Your wrong

      "Really we should be fighting to demand PACER get with the times and modernize its cost structure to be more sane."

      I agree. Of course before PACER you could go down to the court house and review documents for free, but if you wanted a copy you had to pay for it (basically cover the costs of paper // toner... for the courts copy machine). I believe that is where they came up with the model.

      However, with the advent of the internet, that model is really broken and runs counter to the idea of "Public Records". After all if I print something from PACER I am using my ink, paper and electricity.

      I think a better model for PACER (at least as far as fairness is concerned) would be to have the courts pay a annual fee for maintenance... and to have the parties pay a processing fee for each document. There really shouldn't be a cost to view the records and if I am printing them that shouldn't cost me either.

       

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        Gwiz (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re: AC - Your wrong

        I think a better model for PACER (at least as far as fairness is concerned) would be to have the courts pay a annual fee for maintenance.

        I would like to see the Federal government pick up the tab on this one myself. It's certainly a better way to spend my tax dollars then most of the stupid pork barrel projects the Congress funds now.

         

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      Baldaur Regis (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 8:42am

      Re: AC - Your wrong

      Really we should be fighting to demand PACER get with the times and modernize its cost structure to be more sane.
      Indeed. The 10 cents/page pricing scheme harkens back to the time when someone would have to find the doc, go to the library, put a nickel into the copy machine, then mail the copy. A time when fax was the 'gee-whiz' technology of the day.

       

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    Ninja (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:13am

    That's actually one very nice idea but it still doesn't address the elephant in the room: shouldn't the Government itself offer those for free?

    http://www.dominiopublico.gov.br/pesquisa/PesquisaObraForm.jsp

    That's a site that makes available some material in the Public Domain. Some songs, books, videos etc. It may be limited but it's free and funded entirely by the Brazilian Government, no cost to access (and it's probably open to users abroad).

    Most Governmental arms make their production available either online or in form of specialized libraries for free (some are scanning the offline works).

    Why can't the US Govt do the same?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    So let me see if I have this right. Aaron ruined everyone else's completely free access to pacer a few years ago with his stunt. And now they're planning on another stunt that will ruin everybody's free access up to the $15 limit. Awesome plan, idiots!!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:59am

      Re:

      You make no sense. If there was free access before Aaron's attempt, why would he have done what he did?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 2:49pm

        Re: Re:

        You make no sense. If there was free access before Aaron's attempt, why would he have done what he did?

        Read up on what Swartz did. He installed code on a computer in the federal court's library. That script allowed him to scrape the database, just as he did with JSTOR. (Notice the m.o.?) PACER had been trying out a totally-free access program at the libraries, but because of what Swartz did they cancelled the entire program.

        So yeah, Swartz ruined PACER for lots of people.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 9:23am

    Isn't the most efficient way to get the most documents on RECAP to work with law firms?

    If I recall correctly, attorneys on cases get filings in their cases for free. And attorneys routinely download documents via PACER. Having even just one 1000-attorney law firm join would go a long way in helping RECAP build up its database

     

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    Rebelready (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 10:36am

    US Court Documents need open free access to keep many eyes on the corrupt

    The only criminals in this instant matter are tax supported public servants who believe they are exempt from law! BTW the corrupt legal community & OUR corrupt federal court system make Bernie Madoff look like a piker! Pretense litigation in civil suit & malicious prosecutions pad pockets! Public servants run pretense litigation using computers provided by the tax payer; these show cases rob property & include the identity theft of Circuit & US District Judges. Falsifying dockets with the rendering of fraudulent opinions & judgments with the obstruction of justice to the benefit of rich clients and their “elite” attorneys receive no action by the DOJ or US Congress! These capers carry clear to the SCOTUS!

    The “persecution” that led to the death of Aaron was simply seeing the MIT – JSTOR incident as a perfect storm to carry retaliation for Aaron’s PACER download where now a malicious prosecution could ensure a FELONY conviction; a computer crime conviction would bar Aaron from computers & his open records campaign. Risk management by the CORRUPT!! Open records would show the world the corruption in these courts!!!

    Carmen Ortiz! Do your damn job and prosecute real criminals!

    ["…Our government is the potent, omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law, it invites every man to come a law unto himself. It invites anarchy." (United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438 (1928). Justice Louis Brandeis]
    http://www.scribd.com/tired_of_corruption

     

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    Rebelready (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 10:45am

    US Court Documents need open free access to keep many eyes on the corrupt

    Court Records ALL (unless sealed by order of a Judge)the Public has a right view!! The Courts don't want you viewing their corrupt documents!!!!

    The only criminals in this instant matter are tax supported public servants who believe they are exempt from law! BTW the corrupt legal community & OUR corrupt federal court system make Bernie Madoff look like a piker! Pretense litigation in civil suit & malicious prosecutions pad pockets! Public servants run pretense litigation using computers provided by the tax payer; these show cases rob property & include the identity theft of Circuit & US District Judges. Falsifying dockets with the rendering of fraudulent opinions & judgments with the obstruction of justice to the benefit of rich clients and their “elite” attorneys receive no action by the DOJ or US Congress! These capers carry clear to the SCOTUS!

    The “persecution” that led to the death of Aaron was simply seeing the MIT – JSTOR incident as a perfect storm to carry retaliation for Aaron’s PACER download where now a malicious prosecution could ensure a FELONY conviction; a computer crime conviction would bar Aaron from computers & his open records campaign. Risk management by the CORRUPT!! Open records would show the world the corruption in these courts!!!

    Carmen Ortiz! Do your damn job and prosecute real criminals!

    ["…Our government is the potent, omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law, it invites every man to come a law unto himself. It invites anarchy." (United States v. Olmstead, 277 U.S. 438 (1928). Justice Louis Brandeis]
    http://www.scribd.com/tired_of_corruption

     

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    slick8086, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 3:09pm

    freeing pacer seems like a job for cron and wget.

     

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      slick8086, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 3:14pm

      Re:

      er... and distributed computing.

      Seems like some systems could be dedicated to indexing the documents (since they charge for search) and some systems could be dedicated to downloading the documents. You'd need to coordinate so that multiple systems don't download the same data.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2013 @ 7:39pm

    Without reading any comments before me here are my suggestions.

    Can anybody get the source code for Subdownloader and make it work for legal documents of any country?

    The program does the following:

    - It searches for subtitles by language.
    - Automatically recognize subtitles(uses finger printing to do so).
    - Uploads subtitles to a central repository(i.e. OpenSubtitles.

    Now can an app do the same for legal documents?

    - Automatically fingerprints every document it comes accross.
    - Scan selected folders trying to find legal documents.
    - Transform documents to XML so they all can have the same fingerprint and being a simple TXT will last forever.
    - Classify and tag documents, folders or zip files containing all documents related to a case number.
    - Upload everything to some place.

    Is there a "Schema for legal documents?

    If no there should be.

    Imagine you having access to the legal system not only of the US but of the entire world.

     

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    Rebelready (profile), Jan 24th, 2013 @ 7:46pm

    See if this SCOTUS decision helps you guys make peace

    There is at common law "a general right to inspect and copy public records and documents." Nixon v. Warner Communications, 435 U.S. 589, 597 (1978). The Court of Appeals reversed. United States v. Mitchell, 179 U.S.App.D.C. 293, 551 F.2d 1252 (1976). It stressed the importance of the common law privilege to inspect and copy judicial records...It is clear that the courts of this country recognize a general right to inspect and copy public records and document, including judicial records and documents. See, e.g., McCoy v. Providence JournalCo., 190 F.2d 760, 765-766 (CA1), cert. denied, 342 U.S. 894 (1951); Fayette County v. Martin, 279 Ky. 387, 395-396, 130 S.W.2d 838, 843 (1939); Nowack v. Auditor General, 243 Mich. 200, 203-205, 219 N.W. 749, 750 (1928); In re Egan, 205 N.Y. 147, 154-155, 98 N.E. 467, 469 (1912); State ex rel. Nevada Title Guaranty & Trust Co. v. Grimes, 29 Nev. 50, 82-86, 84 P. 1061, 1072-1074 (1906); Brewer v. Watson, 71 Ala. 299, 303-306 (1882); People ex rel. Gibson v. Peller, 34 Ill.App.2d 372, 374-375, 181 N.E.2d 376, 378 (1962). In many jurisdictions this right has been recognized or expanded by statute. See, e.g., Ill.Rev.Stat., ch 116, § 43.7 (1975)
    ...American decisions generally do not condition enforcement of this right on a proprietary interest in the document or upon a need for it as evidence in a lawsuit. The interest necessary to support the issuance of a writ compelling access has been found, for example, in the citizen's desire to keep a watchful eye on the workings of public agencies, see, e.g., State ex rel. Colscott v. King, 154 Ind. 621, 621-627, 57 N.E. 535, 536-538 (1900); State ex rel. Ferry v. Williams, 41 N.J.L. 332, 336-339 (1879), and in a newspaper publisher's intention to publish information concerning the operation of government, see, e.g., State ex rel. Youmans v. Owens, 28 Wis.2d 672, 677, 137 N.W.2d 470, 472 (1965), modified on other grounds, 28 Wis.2d 685a, 139 N.W.2d 241 (1966)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    I hope all of Mike's supporters can see that Mike is doing what he ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS does when asked about his beliefs: He plays word games and he insists that he's answered the question. Mike is lying. He hasn't answered. He has not said "Yes, I think there should be some copyright" or "No, I don't think we should have any copyright." There is no answer. Just games and excuses.

    I honestly don't understand why you folks look up to him so much. He can't even answer honestly a simple question about his own beliefs.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 10:20am

      Re:

      In defense of Mr. Masnick, he does hew to a position that essentially comprises "show me the data". This said, it does bear mentioning that the meme here is that anything getting in the way of third party use is an economically unsound argument since it limits competition and innovation.

      The above applies with equal force to patents.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 11:15am

        Re: Re:

        In defense of Mr. Masnick, he does hew to a position that essentially comprises "show me the data". This said, it does bear mentioning that the meme here is that anything getting in the way of third party use is an economically unsound argument since it limits competition and innovation.

        The above applies with equal force to patents.


        "Show me the data" = too scared to just give an answer. Mike purports to pour over the data. I think he turns a willfully blind eye to everything that doesn't comport with his foregone conclusion, but he pretends like he's into the data. I'm just asking him to get off the fence and pick a side. Yes or no. No bullshit. No pretending like he's not leaning in some direction. Just answer the question. Yes, some copyright, or No, no copyright. This isn't hard. "Show me the data" is just an excuse. What is his opinion right now given what he knows. That's what I'm asking. Just pick a side of the fence. We all know that he's EXTREMELY OPINIONATED. To pretend like he's not sure is completely disingenuous. It's so frustrating talking to him because he REFUSES to ever just have a direct and honest discussion. WTF?

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 11:25am

    C'mon, Mike. I'm not asking you to prove it. I'm just asking you to state your opinion. Given what you already know and given the data you have already seen, in your opinion should we have some copyright (i.e., authors get actual exclusive rights in their writings) or should we have no copyright (i.e., authors get no exclusive rights in their writings)?

    Don't say you need more data. I'm asking you to state an opinion given the data you have already seen. Just answer the question. Don't be a coward. Give us an answer, please.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:19am

    Where'd you go, Mike? Why'd you run away? Why are you so incredibly scared to give an opinion on this? You have so many opinions about so many things, even though you don't have all the evidence proving them beyond a reasonable doubt. Yet with this, you pretend like it's impossible to give an opinion. Why is it you're able to have so many other opinions, yet here you claim you're unable?

    We all know it's because you're a fake and a coward, and you're too scared to just admit that you believe what we ALL ALREADY KNOW you belief. Just so you know, I'm going to hound you day after day with this. You reap what you sow, buddy. I'm going to keep reminding everyone that you're a fake and a coward who criticizes everyone else's beliefs while lying about his own. Wanna make me go away? Man up and actually discuss these things directly and on the merits. I know, I know. It'll never happen. You're too scared.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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