Earlier today, (imho) there was a trending-topic-in-the-making on Twitter — all of these tweets had two things in common: the phrase “Open Source the Law” and thanks to Public.Resource.Org and BoingBoing.
As Cory Doctorow summarizes, these “actions taken together are trying to establish a basic principle: the laws of our society need to be readily available for all to read, not locked behind a cash register.”
What did Carl Malamud do?
Malamud mailed off three letters (on Bastille Day) to the government asking for change. The first letter was a request to the Executive Office of the President to make the Federal Register and Patent databases available for free in bulk; the second letter was a FOIA request to the National Archives asking them to make the many pricey ANSI and UL standards that are ‘incorporated by reference’ (in the CFR) available for free; and the third letter (perhaps my favorite) is a request for a refund for the $17K spent on a defective bulk feed of the CFR. [To see the list of all these letters, plus earlier letters, visit public.resource.org’s GPO page.]
[P.S. If these letters have got your heart beating a bit faster, perhaps you might be interested in signing the petition to improve PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records).]