The day we previewed here last week has arrived: The non-profit organization Public.Resource.Org today released 1.8 million pages of federal case law free of copyright or other restrictions, in a joint venture with Creative Commons. The release includes all Supreme Court cases and all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 on. According to the press announcement, the data is available for download by developers for use on the Internet.
“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 announcement said that the purchase of the data was made possible by contributions from a group that includes the Omidyar Network, the Elbaz Family Foundation, entrepreneur and civil libertarian John Gilmore and lawyer David Boies.
Although the cases can be browsed through the Public.Resource.org site, there is no direct mechanism for searching them. As Google begins to index them over the next few days, you should be able to search using its “search this site” function.