There’s something happening here. Just two days after Public.Research.Org published 1.8 million pages of copyright-free federal case law online (see my post), the company that provided it with those cases, Fastcase, unveiled an even larger free library of cases, statutes, regulations, court rules and legal forms. Called The Public Library of Law, it claims in an announcement to be “the most comprehensive free resource for legal research online.” This is all part of the company’s commitment “to democratize the law,” says CEO Ed Walters:
“American law used to be controlled by foreign-owned publishers. Over the past eight years, Fastcase has smashed through those bottlenecks with our premium service for lawyers. Now, by launching the Fastcase Public Library of Law as a free service, we are also empowering non-lawyers to learn about and use the law themselves.”
PLOL includes all the federal cases Fastcase provided to Public.Research.Org, plus appellate cases from all 50 states from 1997 forward. In addition, it has statutes from all states, court rules from all states, regulations from selected states, the U.S. Code, the Code of Federal Regulations and federal court rules.
What’s the catch? None. Users do have to register and agree to the terms of service, but registration is free and the TOS is standard fare. PLOL lacks the bells, whistles and red flags of Fastcase and other commercial research services. But for simple, bare-bones research, you can’t beat the price.