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Lunchtime Listen: Open Access to Government Documents

This is a presentation by Stephen Schultze, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard on the topic “Open Access to Government Documents.” He focuses on CRS reports, Oregon State Codes, and PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). The presentation is available as streaming video, downloadable video, and as a downloadable audio-only MP3 file.

In the past twenty years, a remarkable number of government documents have been put online. In some cases, these documents are made easily and freely accessible. In others, technology has failed to overcome barriers or even created new barriers to access. One particular subset of documents — opinions, dockets, and the full public record in federal court cases — remain behind a pay wall. Although the U.S. Government cannot hold copyright in documents it creates, it has for a long time long charged for the cost of creating and maintaining these documents. While the courts understandably seek to pay for the services they provide, this talk will argue that there is an alternative path in which the public benefits far outweigh the costs. Stephen Schultze makes a dynamic case for free access to government documents, in honor of Open Access Day 2008.

Produced 13 Oct 2008

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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