The interview moves through key trends and recent history in the legal information and publishing sector (including the latest improvements offered by the ‘big guys’ at Westlaw and Lexis).
Then the discussion shifts to the impact of Google Scholar‘s free case law on the legal information market:
“It’s revolutionary in the sense that the general public now has easy access to the law of the land, something that was surprisingly hard to obtain before.”
Curle mentions the FastCase iPhone app that allows free searching of its database. The days of charging for ‘just access’ to primary legal materials are coming to a close. And, welcome to the generation of data.gov and law.gov:
“Law.gov has the ambition of making all primary US legal material available in standardized, machine-readable formats that can be incorporated into new kinds of information products.”
. . . .
“open access to legal sources will spur the creation of new markets for legal information among consumers, and even more so among non-lawyer professionals who need to understand a narrow field of that they work with all the time. Expect to see new products and services built on top of the free legal information that will make the law more accessible to those new markets.”
And, speaking of new products building on free content. Curle moves on to discuss SpindleLaw.
“They are building, in a kind of collaborative, Wiki-like way, a database of the legal rules that lawyers find in court decisions and in legislation. Their idea is that it’s pretty inefficient to get to those rules by searching and reading long court opinions. They are extracting and organizing the rules with links to the legal sources. They have a long way to go to prove that the concept works, but I like the way they are trying to turn the research process on its head.”
These are very interesting times.