Article: Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Enabling Free On-line Access to UK Law Reports: The Copyright Problem

Philip Leith and Cynthia Fellows

18 International Journal of Law & Information Technology   72 (Spring 2010)

Abstract

The history of publishing legal decisions (law reporting) in the UK has been that of a privatised system since its inception, and that history has encompassed several hundred years. The privatised nature of this has meant that the product (the law report) has been, except in limited cases, viewed as the property of the publisher, rather than the property of the court or public. BAILII is an open access legal database that came about in part because of the copyrighted, privatised nature of this legal information.

In this paper, we will outline the problem of access to pre-2000 judgments in the UK and consider whether there are legal or other remedies which might enable BAILII to both develop a richer historic database and also to work in harmony, rather than in competition, with legal publishers. We argue that public access to case law is an essential requirement in a democratic common law system, and that BAILII should be seen as a potential step towards a National Law Library.

Morrison & Foerster Privacy Library

Morrison & Foerster maintains a wonderful “Privacy Library” of statutes, regulations,  links to government institutions, and IGO & NGO reports. This includes all 50 states and many foreign countries. The foreign country pages provide the laws and regulations in the vernacular and in English when avialable. All of this is available free of charge.

Hat tip to Paul for finding this resource.

Morrison & Foerster Privacy Library

http://www.mofoprivacy.com/

Lawyer2Lawyer Podcast with Carl Malamud on Caselaw in the Public Domain

From Law Librarian Blog:

Carl Malamud, founder of Public.Resource.org, discusses caselaw in the public domain with Professor Thomas F. Bruce, Director of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School, and Andy Martens, Thomson West’s Senior Vice President of New Product Development, in a recent Lawyer2Lawyer podcast (also available for download from Law Librarian Blog).

-George Wilson