Public.Resource.Org meets GPO.Gov — Cool and Free!

This new resource from our good friends at Public.Resource.Org:

Those of you interested in federal materials such as the Code of
Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, the U.S. Code, and other
core legal materials may be interested in a recent initiative intended
to produce timely bulk feeds of key databases:

http://public.resource.org/gpo.gov/

Thank you Carl Malamud!

Why is Carl doing this?

Here is a bit of explanation from Carl in a letter to The Honorable Robert C. Tapella, Public Printer of the United States :

Our intent in purchasing this product is to make it available in raw format on the Internet for access by anonymous FTP. We will not charge for access, nor will we restrict usage by the imposition of any license agreements. Since public documents are defined as “public property” in 44 USC 1119, this deployment of the raw feed of the Code will make it available for all to use without restriction and will allow for-profit and non-profit entities to construct alternative versions of the CFR. .  .  .

While a rudimentary version of these “products” are available on the GPO Access web site, they are built upon a very old technology known as WAIS, a database that allows keyword searches and browsing, but does so with unstructured text and a very primitive user interface. The more definitive bulk products that you sell are used by commercial services to build value-added systems. As evident from the broad interest in the CFR product and by the proliferation of “Web 2.0” sites that build more advanced public interfaces to public information, there is a great demand for the raw data in the public, academic, and nonprofit sectors.

All of these databases are core to our system of government, a collection of rules, laws, and reports we call America’s Operating System. Creation of these products is integral to the operation of the legal machinery in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government. Even if no commercial firms were to purchase these products, the Government Printing Office would create them as required in Chapter 44 of the United States Code and as part of your annual appropriations for congressional printing and the operation of the Federal Repository Library Program.

Public dissemination is at the heart of the Government Printing Office: “GPO’s main mission is to ensure the American public has access to Government information.” For electronic products, 44 USC 4102 is very specific that “fees charged under this section shall be set so as to recover the incremental cost of dissemination of the information involved.”

*PS – some very interesting factoids at the bottom of the public.resource.org/gpo.gov  page that will really give you something to think about….

This entry was posted in Free Resources, Government information, Open Access and tagged , , , by Erika Wayne. Bookmark the permalink.

About Erika Wayne

Erika V. Wayne is deputy library director and lecturer in law at Stanford Law School. Along with George Wilson, Kate Wilko and Paul Lomio, Erika Wayne has co-taught Advanced Legal Research for 3 years. Erika's interest in Open Access dates back to the 1996 when she helped in the development of the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse -- the first court designated internet site for public posting of securities litigation filings. And, she hates to pay for *anything* that should be free. She has a law degree from Penn and a library degree from Illinois.

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