Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Carl Malamud introduces

From the Government Documents department...

Carl Malamud, a public domain advocate and champion of transparency in government, is determined to make public information more accessible. He has already succeeded by opening access to SEC filings through a free, online database known as EDGAR. He is also responsible for Fedflix and has contributed millions of bankruptcy and Federal District Court documents to RECAP, the new Firefox plugin that captures documents from PACER. Now, Mr. Malamud has created, a “distributed, open source, authenticated registry and repository of all primary legal materials in the United States.” This site has three goals:

  • To develop law.Gov as a central tool for access to all United States primary legal materials, with the hope of creating streamlined, efficient and consistent access for all citizens

  • To systematically capture, preserve and maintain all primary United States legal materials which are born digital

  • To make all United States primary legal materials freely accessible to all its citizens

Mr. Malamud believes that public documents and the information they contain serve as the operating system of our democracy; we all have a right to view, read, and utilize these documents without any bureaucratic or financial barriers. As his new project,, evolves, we should be able to access information that is currently only available for a fee levied by the government (as is the case with PACER) or through subscription-based services. This is definitely a development to watch.

See also: America's Operating System, Open Source by Carl Malamud, O'Reily Radar, October 15, 2009

An Effort to Upgrade a Court Archive System to Free and Easy, New York Times, February 12, 2009

Transparency Chic, Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2009